Premise: A volatile young woman challenged by everyday social and professional encounters.
Anne is not doing so great these days. We don’t know how long it’s been going on or what triggered it, but something is definitely off with her. Anne is the literal and figurative focal point of writer/director Kazik Radwanski’s newest film, which puts an occasionally muddled focus on a young person’s mental health.
While the film offers a unique character study of a young woman still trying to figure out her place in the world, it mostly provides a showcase for a powerhouse performance from Deragh Campbell as Anne, and Radwanski’s skills behind the camera. The film opens with Anne jumping out of a plane for her best friend’s bachelorette party and quickly zips to snapshots of her everyday life. She works as an aide at a Toronto daycare, where she sometimes clashes with her co-workers. She goes on a disappointing Tinder date. She shows her mom around her newly acquired apartment. Slowly but surely, things start to unravel for Anne, and it’s unclear how she can turn things around. She returns to skydiving, which seems to be the only place she can feel at peace, chasing the exhilaration from free-falling out of an airplane. Perhaps she discovers that she’s an adrenaline junky, bored with the ins and outs of life on the ground, following protocols at the daycare and going through the motions of life in your early twenties. This aspect of Radwanski’s script is fairly clear, but leaves a few lingering questions open to interpretation.
At only 75 minutes including credits, Anne could use some padding to give a little more perspective on how Anne gets to where she’s at in the film. After giving a cringe-worthy Maid of Honor speech that focuses mostly on herself, Anne meets fellow wedding guest Matt (Matt Johnson) and the two begin dating – though he must first babysit her after she drinks too much at the wedding. Johnson and Campbell have palpable onscreen chemistry, which makes her treatment of him all the more disappointing. One scene sees her introducing him to her family without an advanced warning, only for her to play off the faux pas as a joke. Indeed, most of Anne’s bad behavior is played off by her as bizarre jokes when there’s likely a much more deep-seeded issue at play. The script teeters on the edge of making Anne an unlikeable protagonist, but Campbell is such a magnetic performer that it’s hard to keep your eyes off her, even as she acts as the instrument of her own destruction. Similarly, Radwanski drops a few hints at Anne’s past, especially in regards to her relationship with her mother, without underlining it too heavily.
Radwanski’s camera never strays too far from Anne’s face, which does wonders not only to get us sucked into Anne’s orbit, but to see her as both the hero and victim of her own story. And editor Ajla Odobasic keeps the film humming along, often jerking from scene to scene with few transitions, which only contributes to the inescapable vortex that is Anne’s emotional state – though this could easily break the continuity of the film, everything flows together nicely and still makes the film easy to follow.
We’re never given an exact diagnosis on Anne’s mental condition, but this isn’t a dealbreaker for the film; part of the tragedy is that Anne refuses any help from her friends and family. Still, Anne remains a star vehicle for Deragh Campbell, as she makes a case for herself to be in bigger and more prominent projects. The film wouldn’t have the same emotional core in the hands of a less capable actress, and Campbell makes Anne a complex, messy character that we still, against the odds, want to root for. Radwanski and Campbell workshopped the dialogue – and Campbell reportedly improvised a large portion of it – which only shows that Anne is a confident mix of two capable talents that hopefully won’t go unnoticed for long.
Anne at 13,000 Ft. premieres in select theaters September 3.
About the Writer: Ben Sears is a life-long Indianapolis resident, husband, and father of two boys, as well as a contributing writer on ObsessiveViewer.com and a recurring co-host on The Obsessive Viewer Podcast, and a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. Aside from watching movies and television, Ben enjoys photography and running marathons, but never at the same time. That would be difficult.