I, Anna (3 stars)

I, Anna

A sleek, sombre thriller that’s a little too tricksy for its own good

A sleek, sombre thriller that’s a little too tricksy for its own good, this debut by Barnaby Southcombe is chiefly notable for a fine lead performance from Charlotte Rampling, who also happens to be the director’s mother. (So it’s come to this for older actresses – in order to get a decent lead role you have to actually make your own director!)

With her severe beauty now more pronounced than ever – and craggily gorgeous leading man Gabriel Byrne a fine match for it – Rampling is compelling as the eponymous Anna, a woman with a past who’s either in great danger, or rather dangerous herself. A hopeful late foray into the dating world brings Anna into contact with Byrne’s moody police detective, but his interest is more than carnal: he knows she’s got something to do with a nasty murder case he’s working on.

It’s all reasonably intriguing to begin with, and Southcombe has a fine sense of atmosphere and physical composition alike. The cinematography, by Ben Smithard, is a class act too. But the film’s determination to bamboozle us rather overmatches what it ultimately has up its sleeve. The endgame whereby the film’s secrets are revealed is overlong and sloppy: frankly you’d have to be really quite dim not to have got it all figured out long before it’s been breathlessly laid bare.

And as good as she is, Rampling takes up too much of the film, with the consequence that other characters are sketchy presences, and good actors like Eddie Marsan and Hayley Atwell don’t get an awful lot to do. It’s sweet that the clearly talented Southcombe went to such lengths to make his mum look good, but his film suffers slightly for his partiality.

Selected release from Fri 7 Dec.

I, Anna trailer

I, Anna

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • UK / Germany / France
  • 1h 33min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Barnaby Southcombe
  • Written by: Elsa Lewin, Barnaby Southcombe
  • Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Gabriel Byrne, Hayley Atwell
  • UK release: 7 December 2012

A hopeful late foray into dating brings Anna (Rampling) into contact with police detective Reid (Byrne), who knows she's linked to a nasty murder case. Southcombe's debut is a sleek and sombre thriller and Rampling herself is compelling, but takes up too much of the film; understandable perhaps, since she's the director’s…