10th Jul2019

‘Anna’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Lera Abova, Alexander Petrov, Nikita Pavlenk, Anna Krippa, Aleksey Maslodudov, Eric Godon, Ivan Franek, Jean-Baptiste Puech, Adrian Can | Written and Directed by Luc Besson


Luc Besson returns to cinema screens with his first, and presumably last, film he will be afforded to make after the colossal financial failure of his predeceasing feature Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, that has plunged his production company into chaos and, has been levelled a string of sexual assault allegations against the famed director whose credits include Leon and The Fifth Element. Besson’s latest, on paper at least, is exactly what he needs to fight against in his dark corner of sexual aggression. Gaining back an audience’s trust while also generating a significant profit margin to secure a future for his production company. However with Anna, his latest, Besson fails on both fronts.

Regarding the allegations, it is best for all parties involved that Besson disappears from this circle of influence he’s had and exploited for decades. The allegations and proof that is available is a stretch far too long for anyone, even a notorious and prolifically successful filmmaker like Besson, to come back from or proof innocence against. Besson is done. He will – hopefully – never work in this privileged position again. If an inkling of such an action brings repentance for his actions, we can only hope his victims fight comfort in the fact that he can’t exploit his position of power ever again. However, the fact this film is a faux female empowered action vehicle murk’s the waters ten-fold.

Anna is a lukewarm disaster. A mildly interesting feature that is filled with a firm amount of dull grovel. Lead actress Sasha Luss, who has one, yes ONE previous credit to her name (coincidentally in Besson’s previous feature) has now been given the reigns of a lead actress in a feature action film. To her credit, Luss throws herself into the titular role with a significant prowess with immersive physicality, however, Luss crashes with any and every sequence involving emotional range. Her talent can’t carry her to such a depth. Needing at least one or two more ’bit parts’ in her filmography to feel more comfortable and natural in her newfound craft. The supporting players add the experience and cushioning for Luss to fall upon. Namely Helen Mirren and Luke Evans, who have the most significant material to work with. Both actors manage to add small instances of flair and charisma with Mirren the particular highlight.

No doubt there is a certain atmospheric flair about Besson’s film. The cinematography by Thierry Arbogast is fairly decent with how it arranges composition and framing of the all too little action sequences. Editor Julien Rey crafts fairly long takes to absorb said action and tension. However, the image on the screen is poorly paired with a sorely underwhelming score by noted composer Eric Serra. Made worse is the constant cutting back and forth of time periods created for sensational twist and turns, which ultimately creates a problematic and exhausting viewing pattern in which the audience can never settle, nor enjoy the plot unfolding. The biggest culprit of failure lands in the writing department from Besson, himself. An attribute that is the underlining definition of horrific. Sasha Luss’ character of Anna is written with a constant need for satisfaction from the opposite sex. Seemingly only ever happy when her life is consummated with a dick from either Cillian Murphy or Luke Evans. It is tedious, boring, misogynistic and profoundly depowering for any character to be written in such a sense.

This whole venture of Anna is a walking talking PR disaster and shame on both Besson and production company EuropaCorp for releasing it for financial gain, considering all events that are unfolding and the emotional physical devastation Besson has caused.

Anna is out now.


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