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  Anna M. Can't Get You Out Of My HeadBuy this film here.
Year: 2007
Director: Michel Spinosa
Stars: Isabelle Carré, Gilbert Melki, Anne Consigny, Geneviève Mnich, Gaëlle Bona, Pascal Bongard, Julie Brochen, Catherine Epars, Samir Guesmi, François Loriquet, Geordy Monfils, Francis Renaud, Eric Savin, Delphine Zingg
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: If there's one thing that Anna M. (Isabelle Carré) is, that's lonely. She has a job as a vintage book restorer at a Paris library, and works long hours because she has nothing to go back to her apartment for except her mother (Geneviève Mnich) and her dog. Anna has no social life and only one acquaintance, Éléonore (Gaëlle Bona), from the library who she can talk to, albeit in a limited fashion. So one night, she goes out to walk the dog and throws herself in front of a car in a suicide attempt; she survives, but it's a life-changing event. This is because of the doctor, Zanevsky (Gilbert Melki), who treats her - and becomes her obsession.

A sad tale of one unstable woman's fixation on a man who cannot understand why she has chosen him, Anna M. was scripted by the director Michel Spinosa who apparently looked to Roman Polanski's Repulsion as a jumping off point. Anna actually leaves her home, however, all the better to stalk Dr Zanevsky. Why? you might be wondering. The only reason appears to be that he is the sole male who has ever showed her any kindness, and the fact that he did so was because of no other motivation than it being his job makes Anna all the more pathetic.

In a tour de force, Carré dominates practically every scene as her character's mental state hits the downward spiral into full-blown madness. All the same, Anna is deeply exasperating because you know that while she won't snap out of an all-consuming obsession just like that, you can see the terrible situation she is getting herself into, powerless to help herself or let anyone else help her. She begins by following Dr Zanevsky around, then graduates to telephoning him at all hours, sending him presents and letters proclaiming her love and so on.

The doctor is embarrassed by this attention at first, then grows steadily more disturbed as does his wife (Anne Consigny). Everything he does, whether he realises it or not, has personal significance to Anna as she reads the most innocent gestures and behaviour as part of his message to her: at no point does she consider this relationship is totally one-sided. Here's where the story gets hard to believe as although Dr Zanevsky goes to the police with his worries, he gets nowhere, whereas in real life they would have been down on her like a ton of bricks and Anna would be frogmarched to the nearest mental hospital forthwith.

That does occur eventually, but not before she has done herself and others a lot of damage. Spinosa has arranged his film like a case study, with captions inserted between the acts describing the terms for the state of mind Anna is in, and it's true that with its muted colours and matter of fact presentation the narrative is short on real thrills. Not a Fatal Attraction style of shocker, then, although it's not above using horror movie conventions to disturb the viewer as the lead character's psychosis overtakes her, but it is compelling. That may be because you are wondering what outrageous (and at times, difficult to swallow) depths Anna will plumb next in her quest to matter to the doctor, and with her constantly believing he is sending coded messages to her the ending looks set to be a bleak one, though Spinosa is generous enough to offer her some peace of mind. We can only hope it lasts this time.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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