Anna M

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Sartorial Insanity

Anna takes an incriminating photo of her stalkee.

If being badly dressed is a sign of insanity in Paris, then it should have been clear to everyone right from the start that something was seriously wrong with Anna M (Isabelle Carré), the “heroine” of the new film of the same name, written and directed by Michel Spinosa. She may be pretty and seem normal otherwise, but that rumpled, ill-fitting little-girl raincoat and the worn-out skirt with the baggy derriere are dead giveaways of her mental state.

This seemingly sweet young woman has a boring job restoring antique books in the rarefied setting of the Bibliotheèque Nationale de France (the beautiful old one on the Rue de Richelieu) and still lives with her depressed mother and their equally depressed dog (he can’t even raise the energy to get up when his mistress returns from work).

Once this background has been established, Anna not surprisingly attempts suicide. Yet another failure in her life, but it has a bright side: she finds love, or at least she thinks she does. A few kind words from her handsome doctor (Gilbert Melki) are enough to convince her that he is crazy about her. She starts following him, sending him letters, calling him at home at all hours – the usual stalker behavior. But when Anna’s overtures are rejected, she becomes much more creative in infiltrating his life, getting a babysitting job in the apartment above his, breaking into his apartment, causing an auto accident and making it look like his fault, and even contemplating the murder of his wife. This is a very determined young woman.

This film, perfectly acted and visually attractive, should be seen as a sophisticated horror story rather than a psychological study of a stalker (we are never given any clue to the cause of Anna’s insanity or any psychological insight in spite of the title’s obvious reference to the famous case of Anna O. treated by Freud and Breuer), but I wish it had been just a bit more suspenseful and gut-wrenching. Perhaps because the trailer showed far too much, I never felt the shocks you should feel in such a film (nor did I hear any gasps of surprise from the rest of the audience), although the ending did manage to satisfy. Still, it’s an entertaining (though a bit overlong) addition to the genre.

Heidi Ellison

© 2007 Paris Update

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