Friday, November 9, 2012

"I, Anna"

There have been two spellbinding thrillers at this year’s Starz Denver Film Festival: Shadow Dancer" and "I, Anna" starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne.

Rampling is Anna, a lonely divorced woman taken to attending speed dating sessions. At one she meets George Stone (Ralph Brown) and goes home with him to his sumptuous apartment. Later, George is found murdered, bludgeoned to death.

Gabriel Byrne is Detective Chief Inspector Bernie Reid. DCI Reid is separated from his wife, lonely and an insomniac taken to roaming around London late at night. While out on one of his nocturnal wanderings he hears a call about a dead body. Realizing he is close by the address he responds.

By chance, he encounters Anna, innocently retrieving her umbrella from the elevator of the building. Something about her intrigues him, not because he connects her to the crime he is about to investigate but because there is something captivating. Watching her leave, he makes a mental note of her license plate – perhaps he will seek her out.

This psychological thriller is very ‘film noirish’ and is set in a seedy London, not the London of Mayfair and the West End.

Anna lives with her daughter Emily (Hayley Atwell) and Emily’s toddler. There is a serene, almost vague quality to Anna and while we think she must know something about the murder, she doesn’t seem to; she seems not to remember anything about that night.

"I, Anna" is directed by Barnaby Southcombe, who also happens to be Rampling’s son from her marriage to Bryan Southcombe. Barnaby Southcombe also wrote the screenplay which is based on the novel of the same name by Elsa Lewin.

Southcombe keeps us guessing about what happened – feeding us flashes and tidbits of information: who may have murdered George Stone, and what exactly Anna’s part in all of this is?

DCI Reid's investigation focuses on George Stone’s troubled and out of control son, Stevie (Max Deacon), who is known to be in the apartment the night of the murder. In all this he continues to be attracted to the woman he only met in passing, Anna.

He tracks her down, learning that she attends speed dating sessions. He attends a session as well and the two meet at the bar. They talk, there is a rapport, but she has no memory of meeting him before. They agree to see each other again. They do, but as they do some of Anna’s memories begin to resurface.

Rampling and Byrne's maturity and talent make the film work wonderfully. Rampling, at 66 years of age is still breathtakingly beautiful with that enigmatic, other-world quality it is very believable that the ruggedly handsome Byrne would fall for her.

His attraction to her complicates his investigation though and maybe even his ethics. As more secrets are revealed, the ending starts to bear down on us and Anna and Reid like an on rushing train.

The film screens again Saturday. No US commercial release has been announced.

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