Tag Archives: Luke Evans

Anna (Luc Besson, 2019)



Anna is the perfect ´too-tired-to-think´film. It´s about a victim of domestic abuse (Sasha Luss) recruited by Alex (Luke Evans) and trained to be a spy. She´s put in the service of the ornery Olga (Helen Mirren) who runs the elite section and is trained to kill. But is she working for the KGB or for the CIA? Anna has affairs with KGB Alex and CIA Leonard (Cillian Murphy) whilst simultaneously pretending to be in love with a glamorous super-model, Nika (Anna Krippa) as a front to keep the rest of the men away. All want to tie her down in some way, none will let her be free. The story the film begins to tell is constantly reframed by flashbacks showing what really happened. But really who cares? It´s beautiful people having sex in glamorous settings with lots of shoot-outs in between. One can knit, glance occasionally at the tv for the kiss-kiss bang-bang and be certain one hasn´t missed anything. Even Helen Mirren´s performance, a fun showstopper, doesnt´t add up to more than a collection of clichés collated for effects (though, rather like Anna herself, they rarely miss their mark.

The film has obvious connections with Besson´s earlier La femme Nikita (1990) .There could be a chapter on Angel A (2005) and The Fifth Element (1997), tying in a sci-fi strand, another on historical figures like The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999) and The Lady (2011) , and yet another on the bande desinée adaptations like The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc Sec (2010) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Besson is arguably the key-figure of the  French ‘cinema de look’ films from the 80s. And the pleasures of those films – not to be underestimated — remain the pleasures of these.

Anna is showing on Amazon Prime, Lucy (2014)and The Family (2013), with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro are on Netflix. They´re different kinds of trashy, and each fun in its own way if one doesn´t demand or require too much of movies.


José Arroyo

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 154 – Ma

A horror movie that cleverly inverts one or two tropes of the genre, we ultimately feel Ma is less than the sum of its parts, but worth a look nonetheless.

Director Tate Taylor is clearly very good with actors, and every performance here is pitched well, but he doesn’t have such an aptitude for building tension or developing psychological creepiness. The writing doesn’t help him – while Mike insists that the film’s premise is full of potential, it’s not built upon very successfully. But Octavia Spencer is brilliant as the central villain, eliciting laughs and jumps at will, and her Ma is an engrossing character, if a bit reliant on cliché.

José points out the film’s concentration on women, male characters being secondary, and its interesting inversions of gender tropes, in particular a very male gaze: the objects of desire, men are disrobed and splayed out for Ma’s pleasure, and the camera doesn’t shy away from displaying them. Unfortunately, the film seems to have aimed for its 15 rating, sometimes appearing to edit around gore and explicit imagery rather than indulge in it, resulting in a somewhat disappointing feeling that it wants to be more graphic than it’s willing to be, to its detriment. One can’t shake the feeling that, for all Ma‘s boldness, there’s still a more visually expressive, confident film in here, itching to get out.

So it’s worth a look for the interesting way it deploys gender representation, and some wonderfully entertaining performances. Just don’t be disappointed if you’re a bit disappointed.

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With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.