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EUR Review: ‘Anna’ is a Sexy, Stylish Antidote to Boring Snorefests at The Cineplex This Summer


Anna” is a cinematic breath of air so fresh you will want as much as possible in your lungs – and so hot it will singe them.

Yes, the film is directed by Luc Besson and yes, there are similarities between this picture and “La Femme Nikita”, the 1991 film Besson is arguably best known for.

However, by making this film now – with the star and cast he has – Besson truly makes “Anna” an antidote to the bland, desperate-to-be modern-and-not-upset-anyone sameness that is pervading blockbusters this summer.

In a Hollywood in which sex and/or romance have become almost extinct in blockbusters, Besson gives us the complex, sizzling character of Anna Poliatova. She doesn’t appear interesting at first, as we see her selling Matryoshka – the famous Russian nesting dolls – at a market where she is discovered by a french talent scout, who quickly plunges her into the dizzying, cutthroat world of Paris fashion. 

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Anna makes a believable, glamorous supermodel of course, being played by actual Russian supermodel Sasha Luss, who is outstanding in her first major role. She exhibits the statuesque stoicism required for her job, while also exuding heat.

While filling in the gaps on Anna’s story and journey, Besson goes backward and forward in time on several occasions. I usually hate this tactic, but in “Anna”, the time shifts are used to maximum effect, giving us payoff moments and layers to Anna’s character.

One of those pieces that are peeled back is that Anna was once a young woman in an abusive relationship who almost saw no reason to give herself more days to live. Then, she seemingly found that reason as a supermodel – and then as a member of the KGB and possibly the CIA.

After making a deal with the KGB to work for them in exchange for her eventual freedom, Anna is told by the cold-blooded Vassiliev (Eric Gordon)  that death is the only way to be free of the KGB. This sets in motion the rest of the film, as we soon discover that Anna has been noticed by the CIA as well. Will she work for the KGB to take down the CIA or do the opposite? Likewise, does she – at least to some degree – reciprocate romantic feelings from Alexander “Alex” Tchenkov (Luke Evans) in order to help complete her mission, keep the hard-boiled KGB handler Olga (Helen Mirren) at bay or because she truly cares for him? 

In the same vein, does she respond to the CIA’s Cillian Murphy to set him up, to betray the KGB or because she truly cares for him. The character of Anna is so complex, you don’t even know if her romance with the stunning woman Maud (Lera Abova) is true or the means to an end. With the complexity of the plot and the time jumping, we are given a film that engrosses the mind, as well as the eyes. It is an awesome performance by Luss. Her first scene in action may be the best fight scene you see all year. Yes, it’s that good. The choreography is outstanding and Anna is forced to use her brains when her gun no longer has bullets. 

Ironically, Besson – who became embroiled in the #MeToo movement when he was hit with since-dropped accusations of inappropriate behavior toward nine women –  has no problem having Anna use her sexuality as a weapon. At one point, she tells one of the three individuals who are attracted to her, when they are alone, “We’re never going to have time to have that dinner. So let’s f–k instead.”  Such brashness and willingness to portray a woman as empowering in this fashion is indeed refreshing.

One hopes that – despite no publicity or press screenings offered by EuropaCorp or Summit Entertainment in the wake of the initial #MeToo backlash – Luss and this film are seen and remembered enough to get another shot. Because in the end, this chess master has to stay one step ahead of the rest of the players in the film and we don’t have a clue what her final destiny will be, who she will be loyal to or if she will prove capable of truly loving anyone – even herself.  

But we all want to find out.

Grade:A –   

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