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Anna is a modern, independent single girl, focused on her job and wary of getting caught in romantic relationships. Her life is all about fun. Strangers without strings. No commitment, no casualties. She has just found a new apartment, and is tempted to let her latest boyfriend, Frank, move in with her. Instead, she finds a tenant: The flamboyant, fun-loving Camilla, who shares Anna's views on love and commitment. But then an old boyfriend happens to knock on her door: Johan, the very man who five years previously broke Anna's heart. Anna is tempted. It's not good. More than ever, she needs to get back on the merry-go-round and move on. Fortunately, she receives an offer to design costumes for a theatre in Paris. As far away from romantic temptation as possible -- right? Written by
Official festival screenings include the Zürich Film Festival in 2005; the Io, Isabella International Film Week, 2006; the 1st Porn Filmfestival Berlin, 2006; and Rated X: Amsterdam Alternative Erotica Film Festival, 2007. See more »
A friend once said that every woman needs three men. One for adventure and fun, one for stimulating conversation and one for good sex. Johan was all three.
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An English language film shot in Denmark with a European cast, "All About Anna" is a co-production from Innocent Pictures and Zentropa Productions, best known in the United States for award-winning feature films like Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark" and "Dogville" starring Nicole Kidman and James Caan.
A slice-of-life mainstream romantic comedy with explicit lovemaking scenes, "All About Anna" is erotica made by women, for women and about women. Despite its graphic sexual content, It's not a shadowy dark night of the soul, as earlier, similar efforts like "The Devil In The Flesh" and "The Brown Bunny" strained to portray. It's simply entertaining and gently arousing, and aimed squarely at ladies and couples. Successful or not (and this critic feels, by and large, that it's a success) "All About Anna" represents a new genre: a fusing of the Northern European ambiance and pretty photography of that 60s classic "Elvira Madigan" (which this film more than slightly resembles, despite a much more upbeat ending), with a distinct feminist sensibility and startling, you-are- there hardcore photography.
Danish director Jessica Nilsson (whose background includes both award-winning short films and cutting-edge music videos) brings a trendy indie sensibility to the film's visual style; the DIY-roots of Dogme95 and the association with Lars von Trier are combined to make "All About Anna" nothing so much as a lush tableaux of desire and abandon.
The deceptively simple story focuses on young Anna (portrayed with an abundance of grace and style by mainstream Danish TV and music star Gry Bay), a young theatrical costume designer, who's focused on her career to the point of shunning romantic entanglements. But her concentration is shattered by a brief encounter with her ex- boyfriend Johan. As she begins to question her choices in life and love, Anna's dilemma ironically stems from her very determination to be an independent, self-actualized woman. While yearning for romance, she fears the pain it may entail - but even more, She fears loneliness even more. In a world where "no pain, no gain" seems to take on new meanings all the time, Anna is forced to make a life-defining decision.
Loneliness is certainly one of the most universal subjects of European cinema, from Bergman's weighty meditations on faith to Truffaut's engaging slice-of-life comedies. Thankfully for everyone who dreads the pretentiousness that seems endemic to so much "serious" erotica, "All About Anna" cleaves to the latter camp.
The much-ballyhooed unsimulated sex scenes emerge as nothing so much as a natural part of the storyline. This simplicity of the explicit content is heightened by the fact that the crew and actors utilized here obviously had no experience in making "adult" films. Indeed, porn fans seeking gynecological close-ups and standard-issue "money shots" should look elsewhere, as this is one sex movie that refuses to indulge sex movie clichés. In many instances, the camera operator's choice to shoot much of the lovemaking as a series of full body shots seems to actually work against the conventions customary to adult - but they speak volumes in terms of exteriorizing the inner lives of central characters.
Beguiling Gry Bay (who, whether intentionally or not, is a dead ringer for the actress who played the titular character in "Elvira Madigan" nearly 40 years ago) is wholly believable both in and out of bed, by turns fetching, troubled, awkward, and sensitive (without ever being maudlin) in a performance that truly exists in a universe of its own, as if telegraphed from an alternate plane where "real movies" and "porn movies" are not mutually exclusive concepts. Eileen Daly happily lightens the mood in a winning supporting role, and French porn icon Ovidie is memorable in a lesbian liaison with Anna (although her Gothic, fetishistic look and personality would seem to suggest she'd be more at home in a Dario Argento erotic-horror opus than a quiet slice-of-life comedy like "All About Anna."
A final influence on "All About Anna" appears to be American cult director Monte Hellman, who while having worked under-the-radar in the U.S. for over four decades, has long been heralded as a genius of the "quiet film" in both France and Denmark (He even recently renamed his production company Quiet Films, in a warm nod to his Danish fans). As the director of "Two-Lane Blacktop," and executive producer of "Buffalo 66" and Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," Hellman has made a career out of crafting somber, slice-of-life dramas that focus on the individual's Search For Meaning.
Imagine Hellman being given a free hand to shoot his own explicit adult film, with a wry, literate script and more than a few knowing references to "Elvira Madigan," and you've got this precocious film, a movie that beats all the X-rated filmmakers in the world to the punch at creating an "adult movie" that's not only also a "real movie" but a truly "good movie" as well.
"All About Anna" is a love letter from Denmark, written in English, sent from the heart, a "Vinland Saga" for American audiences.
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