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directed by Barnaby Southcombe
UK/Germany/France 2012

 

When George Stone (Ralph Brown, ALIEN 3) is found brutally clubbed to death in his apartment, the likely suspect is his former stepson and current flatmate Stevie (Max Deacon, FLASHBACKS OF A FOOL) who is now being hidden from the police by George's ex-wife Janet (Jodhi May, NIGHTWATCHING). There is, however, another suspect that lead detective Bernie Reed (Gabriel Byrne, THE USUAL SUSPECTS) has failed to report: Anna Welles (Charlotte Rampling, THE DAMNED), a divorcee living with her daughter Emmy (Hayley Atwell, CASSANDRA'S DREAM) and granddaughter who frequents the same lonely hearts events as the victim (under the assumed name "Allegra"). Instead, he pursues Anna on his own time and becomes romantically involved with her, seemingly unaware as to whether he's drawn to her because he suspects her or if he believes she's innocent. Memories of her evening with George start to come back to Anna; however, it seems that she has an even darker secret to face.

As far as Charlotte Rampling thrillers go, I, ANNA can be likened more to Francois Ozon's SWIMMING POOL or UNDER THE SAND (if you consider that a thriller) than BASIC INSTINCT 2 (in which the actress was wasted in supporting role). Indeed, the thriller aspect is more psychological than procedural with an emphasis on Anna's psychosis (the results of the investigation are parsed out so thinly across the narrative that the police come across half-assed). As with most modern noir films, a twist of perception revelation is inevitable. If taken as a murder mystery, Anna's secret and the murder seem thrown together in a muddled script; however, things gel better if one accepts it as a romantic thriller (it's not really an "erotic thriller") with the emphasis on the relationship between Anna and Bernie, then I, ANNA succeeds in depicting its central relationship where Jane Campion's adaptation/revision of Susanna Moore's IN THE CUT failed (even with a flimsier plot). Fortunately, Rampling is her usual beguiling self and Byrne packs a lot of depth into a character who was not only underwritten but further cut down in the editing (deleted scenes reveal a lengthy monologue about his childhood that was perhaps unnecessary but beautifully performed). Honor Blackman (GOLDFINGER) has a cameo appearance early on. French electronic duo K.I.D. provide an effective Graeme Revell-esque minimalist score while Richard Hawley provides some smoky vocals. TV cinematographer Ben Smithard shot the film in 2-perf and 3-perf 35mm rather than an anamorphic scope process, achieving an intriguing texture (he also spikes the cliche predominately bluish gray color palette with some strikingly saturated colors from Rampling's iconic red dress to the gel lighting of dance clubs). Certainly a stylistic triumph if not entirely a narrative one.

Eric Cotenas

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Theatrical Release: 7 December 2012 (UK)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:27:27 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.73 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Barnaby Southcombe and actress Charlotte Rampling
• Deleted Scenes, with optional director commentary (16:9; 10:02)
• Pitch Promo, with optional director commentary (16:9; 1:28)
• Featurette (16:9; 5:02)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:13)

DVD Release Date: April 8th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Artificial Eye's dual-layer transfer sports a lovely image of cinematography that cries out for an HD rendering (the film was shot in 35mm using the Techniscope 2-perf widescreen process - as well as 3-perf Super 35mm for some scenes - and finished both in 35mm and D-Cinema formats). Both the 5.1 and 2.0 mixes render the score and songs to vivid effect. Director Southcome and star Rampling appear on a commentary track that is a little self-congratulatory but also refreshingly informative on the intent of every stylistic and technical choice (including mention of the ordering of scenes in different cuts and the unsuccessful attempt to wed a more conventional symphonic score to the film).

The ten minutes of deleted scenes include character stuff related to Byrne's character (deleted to keep the focus on Anna as the protagonist) as well as a number of scenes featuring May and Deacon (the ambiguity of which was found to be distracting). Not included is the alternate ending discussed by Southcombe and Rampling in the feature commentary. A short pitch promo with Rampling filmed twelve months before production in order to attract financing is also included with optional commentary. Both the deleted scenes and promo are separately encoded with and without commentary, so it is impossible to toggle back and forth between the commentary and original audio. The five minute featurette features sound-bytes by Rampling, Byrne, Atwell, Eddie Marsan (who loses his longest scene to the cutting room floor), and Southecombe (who cites his influences as coming from seventies and eighties French thrillers). A trailer is also included.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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