A friend once said that every woman needs three men: One for adventure and fun, one for stimulating conversation and one for good sex. Johan was all three.
Eventually I got tired of crying over Johan. I’d learned my lesson. I was going to master my emotions. I was NOT a victim of love. From now on it was going to be all about fun. From now on, I would be living life to the hilt.
All About Anna 6.0
eyelights: its intention. its sexy moments.
eyesores: its poor dialogues. the amateurish acting.
I discovered ‘All About Anna’ while I was researching Catherine Breillat on wiki. I stumbled upon a factoid about motion pictures that feature real sex in them and it listed this Lars von Trier-produced one. The fact that it was Lars von Trier naturally caught my eye, and I read up on it, discovering that Zentropa, von Trier’s production company had developed a manifesto called Puzzy Power for making sexually-explicit films with female audience in mind.
Well, not only was I intrigued, but I wholeheartedly supported the idea: it’s not entirely uncommon for sexy films to be made for women, but I like that a well-known male filmmaker would be behind it – sexy films for women are often made by women, with men mostly making hardcore films (I guess “movies” might be more appropriate). I thought that it was bold and commendable, so I proceeded to reading up on the three Puzzy Power films that were made by Zentropa.
‘All About Anna’ was, from what I could tell, the best of the bunch: reviews for the others were dismal. ‘All About Anna’ was also rated quite low, but at least it fared a bit better. So I checked on eBay to see if I could find a copy for dirt cheap, but they were all expensive enough that it wasn’t worth the gamble. Instead, I went to the local indie video store and rented it – unsurprisingly, considering their extensive collection, they had a copy of it.
Well, despite sincerely good intentions, I must say that I wasn’t all that impressed with ‘All About Anna’. On any level.
The story is fairly simplistic: Anna’s boyfriend, Johan, left on a fishing boat but never came back. Heartbroken, Anna decides to maintain an emotional distance in her interactions with men, keeping them at a safe remove. She eventually meets Frank and entertains a relationship with him, but won’t allow him to move in with her. One day, however, Johan unexpectedly returns into her life, and they can’t help but be drawn to each other again.
Obviously, the plot is geared towards allowing as many sex scenes into it as possible. It’s not nearly as bad as traditional porn, which would typically set up the silliest situations for their sex acts, but it’s loose enough that the couples can match up almost anywhere. It focuses on a certain emotional content each time, however, and the sex is rarely bereft of meaning – that is one of the main differences between this picture and everyday adult material.
However, sex doesn’t make a picture interesting, and a barren plot such as this one doesn’t sustain my interest much – especially given that I found the main character a bit clueless and reckless. I really didn’t like that she wasn’t mindful of Frank’s heart, for instance; it was obvious that he cared about her, so the way that she just discarded him didn’t sit well with me. Admittedly, she didn’t seem to know what she wanted, but hearts deserve more care.
I also didn’t understand the pull between the two main lovers. The problem is that it has to be assumed that Johan is the love of Anna’s life, but we never really got to feel that before he left. So all that we have to work with is an assumption that there’s more going on than mere physical attraction – which, truth be told, might be enough in this case, as both are beautiful enough specimens to elicit a certain amount of interest in the average human being.
Anna, although on the skinny side, has a very pretty face and benefits from a natural beauty that requires very little make-up to highlight her features; she can manage without it effortlessly. Johan, meanwhile, is like some Norse demigod, built like a fridge, but not in such a fashion that one feels he’s steroid-fuelled: he’s a massive man, the meat is neatly folded onto his body, and his skin like tanned leather; he likely got his physique from genes and much manual labour.
The thing is that the performances aren’t nearly on the same level as the eye-candy. Anna over-emoted all the time, like a drama school reject. Even during the sex, she had this curious look of worry on her face, as though she didn’t know what was going on; she’s cute, but clearly a non-actress. Johan, meanwhile, was alright (but not much was demanded of him), while Frank was a bit too goofy for my taste, giving us a character that was hard to appreciate; one wonders why Anna would pick him.
The most quizzical of the lot was Anna’s flatmate, Camilla, who was consistently over-the-top, as though she were trying to bring in the comedy. Trying. As in trying my patience. I really didn’t understand what the filmmakers were attempting to do with this character, but she could be grating. And what’s with all her make-up, which was poorly applied and made her look like a drag queen? Ugh. Too bad, too, because she looked so lovely without it (Um… despite the tattoos).
Anyway, the film is pretty explicit – it’s porn, after all. But it was designed for women, so the focus is different and it doesn’t go for the usual close-ups, awkward angles and money shots. One knows that the couples are actually getting quite intimate with each other, that much is clear, but it doesn’t feel as though this is the only consideration; to a certain degree, there is a mood being set, and it leaves enough to the imagination that it can be erotic at times.
Would ‘All About Anna’ turn women on, as intended? I’d love to find out. For me, it worked for me more than some male-focused material does – but I tend to have a different perspective than many men. However, the performances are so poor, the story and characters so bereft of substance that I can’t help but wonder if they would get in the way of appreciating the mood it’s trying to set. It’s an appealing concept, certainly, but I”m not 100% sure that it was successful here.
Date of viewing: July 10, 2013