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Friday, 4 December 2009

Anna M. (2007)

To my amazement, this is the third time this year that I find myself writing about the French actress Isabelle Carre whom I honestly had never heard of previously, probably because she confines her efforts to her quite extensive filmography of French-language movies rather than seeking international exposure. To put it mildly, I am impressed by her talent -- she is one hell of an actress!

This movie adds another string to her bow of characterizations as she believably becomes a mentally-deranged young woman. The film's title suggests a classic study, something out of Freud's casebook. She plays a book restorer who lives with her mother and absolutely no background is given for her sudden suicide attempt, throwing herself in front of a car on a busy highway. But she survives, and as her damaged leg is tended by surgeon Gilbert Melki (one of the recurring characters in Lucas Belvaux's 2003 Trilogy which my friend Michael has recently reviewed), she develops an obsessive crush on the married doctor, convincing herself that he is also madly in love with her. Her behaviour spirals out of control as she imagines receiving coded messages from him to meet him at a rendezvous hotel, moves in as a menacing nanny in the flat above his, contemplates pushing his wife into an oncoming metro train, tricks her way into and damages their flat, and generally morphs into a nightmare stalker.

This is one scary scenario. The film it most reminded me of was Polanski's "Repulsion" (1965) where Catherine Deneuve goes bonkers in London. Anna may not yet be a murderess, but her slide into obsession and madness is frightening. Even a stay in an asylum where she manages to convince the doctors that she is now a responsible, rational being does not alter her behaviour on her release. The strange coda which shows her some years later out in the countryside with the child she has conceived at the lovenest hotel (not with Melki let it be said) and in the company of a faithful female friend -- a loyalty never explained -- suggest that she is far from cured as the doctor and his wife walk into view. But being a French film, of course things stop there!

I didn't really like the movie, but it was compulsively watchable, anchored by another great performance from Carre.
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