Anna, a detached and diffident director, arrives in Germany to show her latest film; she checks into a hotel, invites a stranger to her bed, and abruptly tells him to leave. He asks her to ... See full summary »
Anna, a detached and diffident director, arrives in Germany to show her latest film; she checks into a hotel, invites a stranger to her bed, and abruptly tells him to leave. He asks her to a birthday lunch with his mother and daughter; she goes. Afterward, in Cologne, she meets an old friend, a Polish Jew and war refugee. In Brussels, she spends the night at a hotel with her mother, whom she rarely sees. On the train, a stranger tells his story. Last, it's home to Paris, where her lover Daniel picks her up and they go to a hotel. Throughout, people make personal revelations to her, and Anna listens with little affect. Although it was 30 years ago, the war seems ever present. Written by
When a single woman, in her early 30's with plain features - starting with expressionless eyes and thin lips unadorned by cosmetics, attempts to deal with people in her professional career world of film-making, in her personal world of family, and with her few, select friends, her inability to ignite a spark of spontaneity in even the most casual social encounters foreordains a shallow, isolated existence from which there can be no respite.
At no time are we given a hint as to why this young woman has become traumatized and de-sensitized to the point where her inter-personal responsiveness is mechanical and roboticized, and to where she is so emotionally-blocked she cannot even return a wave from a man who befriended her on a train trip from Cologne to Brussels, just walking out of his life as though they had not spent several hours in mutual soul-searching for a meaning in life beyond mere existence and attending to business matters. And to where, when her brief visit with her mother at a train station, and overnight in a hotel room, ends with her mother pleading with her to say "I love you," she coldly obliges, but then, instead of the natural follow-up of a shared hug, she just turns around and walks out of her mother's life for another extended period of separation.
Even given Anna's embarrassing lack of social communications skills she does have some redeeming positive qualities, starting with two of the most important attributes anyone can have and outwardly convey - honesty and integrity. This is a real person with inner contentment and the confidence to let the world in and see her as she truly is, which is consistent from the inner soul to the outer countenance, with no cosmetics and no theatrical affectations - just as earthy and unassuming as a human being can possibly be. And while she never projects in dress, speech, or manner the contemporary, overt "sensuality" to which her generation of young women routinely aspires, she seems comfortable with her ample female physical endowments in her two sexual encounters with males she dallies with, one a "ships in the night" encounter with a German man, the other with her current lover who is based in Paris, and who becomes physically ill as a result of her ascerbic verbal rejoinders, at the expense of failing to consummate their fleeting and perhaps final romantic tryst.
Because the protagonist in this film appears completely detached from societal conventions and contemporary behavioral patterns, this film elicits a pallor of honesty and in-depth psychological reflection far beyond the superficial treatment accorded most cinematic leading ladies. It takes guts to produce such a mundane subject matter film without succumbing to the temptation to over-reach and titillate the mature audience this starkly depressing material is intended for.
Well worth viewing on a repeat basis, if simply because Sigmund Freud would have had a "field day" analyzing the eccentricities of such a complex and disturbed soul as this one.
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