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
moody, filled with loneliness and despair, but very worthwhile film
Les Rendezvous d'Anna opens with a shot of a train station somewhere in Germany. A woman gets off the train, and she is seen walking slowly to a phone booth, and making a call. The shot is a long one, and the woman is so far in the distance that she can barely be seen at all. This shot establishes the mood of much of the film. I have to admit that, during the first half-hour of this two-hour-plus film, I almost ejected the videocassette and gave up on it. There are many long shots of Anna with her back to the camera, standing and looking out of hotel windows, train windows, at landscapes which are at best industrial. The viewer is tempted to say "OK, I get it; get on with it!" I succumbed to that temptation more than once. If you're willing, though, as I was, to slow down, to settle in to the pace of the film, to stop expecting anything much to happen, there are many rewards for your patience here. Anna is an independent filmmaker; she's on a more-or-less continuous tour of cities to appear at cinemas with her film in an attempt to attract a larger audience. The setting of Chantal Ackerman's film is almost entirely commercial interiors: on trains, in stations, in hotels and hotel rooms. I suspect much of this mirrors Ms. Ackerman's own experience. My first response while watching was to put this film in the same category as 'Last Year at Marienbad,' or 'Hiroshima Mon Amour,' great films, but bleak films. 'Anna' is a bit of a different story, though--the situation is a temporary one; Anna is a creative person out to help sell her work, not simply a symbol for existential angst. Her surroundings are bleak, but she's making sense of it as she can; during the scenes in this film where she interacts with others (two men who don't quite make it as lovers, an older woman, her estranged mother) she comes alive. She listens to people, she talks to them, she's sympathetic; she helps them as much as she can, living in a rootless world. I came away from 'Anna' with a deep sense of involvement with the character; she's still on my mind two days later. Like Anna, I sometimes feel adrift in an alien urban landscape. If you're a lover of European art film, I can recommend this film without reservation.
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