Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
About forty minutes into this movie 'Anna', or 'Mindscape'… don't know which one is the actual title the production company is rolling with, but without actually paying attention to the credits I figured this was a film by a Spanish director.  How did I come to this amazing conclusion?  A couple of things tipped me off, these things beings that the film had a hint of the supernatural while still weighted down in reality, and the fact that it didn't seem too interested in making any sense.  Apparently Spanish film directors get a free pass when it comes to sense making in their movies, which is why if I were a film director, I'd want to be a Spanish film director.  Eventually, this movie does wrap itself up quite neatly… maybe too neatly… and at least it makes sense in the world it exists in, but I'm thinking something is missing.

In this reality we have these people called mind leaders or something who can get in your brain and reconstruct your memories for whatever reason.  Be it to find a killer, some lost cash, a repressed memory… whatever.  One of the best at this is John Washington (Mark Strong) who has just suffered a tragedy which has affected his ability to do his job, and actually caused him to suffer a slight stroke forcing him to take a break from this crazy gig he does.  Now, however, John is ready to get back in the game and his boss Sebastian (Bryan Cox) has an easy gig for him.  All he has to do is get this teenage girl who is hunger striking to start eating.  How hard could that be?

So John meets young Anna (Taissa Farmiga), and the kid who is locked in her room by her wacky parents, is definitely odd.  For starters she looks creepy, draws weird pictures all the time, and speaks in riddles and platitudes.  John introduces himself, makes some small talk, takes a liking to the kid and then enters her brain to unearth some secrets and hopefully get this skinny girl to eat a biscuit or something.
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Thing is, John sees some rather disturbing things in Anna's memories.  Just so you know, Anna is locked in her room because she seems to be a danger to herself and everyone around her, though Anna swears that this is not the case.  But for every disturbing memory that John sees, Anna has very easy and simplistic explanation for it.  Be it the attempted murder, the statutory rape, another attempted murder… there's a logical explanation for everything according to Anna.  And John believes her, because he can see it plain as day in her memories.  Some weird things are happening personally to John, say like him seeing things or experiencing things that aren't really happening, but these things shouldn't have anything to do with that skinny girl that won't eat, does it?

Eventually John gets the truth.  Or so he thinks.  Until it's kind of not the truth.  What exactly has John been experiencing?  The truth will blow John away.  I doubt it will blow you away since you will probably know already what John should've known a long time ago.

Let's work our way through 'Anna' and the various problems it presents to us, problems which ultimately there are no real solutions.  On the positive side, Dorado has crafted a film that looks great, and stars Mark Strong who brings whatever production he chooses to participate in up at least two levels.  There will come a day when Taissa Farmiga will be so much more than that kid on American Horror Story with the super-hot older sister… today is not that day… but she was suitably creepy and manipulative in this movie.  The setup for the mystery was also handled very well, but as time went on and events developed, we were eventually left us with only one logical conclusion for this mystery and that's where we have the issue.

SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW… But as the saying goes, once is anomaly, twice is a coincidence, thrice is a trend.  Therefore, after repeatedly seeing clear signs and being told by numerous people that Anna is a bad apple, it seems at some point John should've came to that very simple and logical conclusion all on his own.  You might think that John didn't suspect Anna could actually be manipulating his own thoughts… but John himself accuses Anna of doing just that.  On one of the accusations, Anna had a simple explanation, then another time she just shrugged it off.  John bought all of that.  If someone told you Anna threw you over a rail down three flights of steps onto a grand piano, I'd be inclined to believe that person, especially at this point, despite Anna's great rebuttal as to why this person is lying.  John is an idiot.

Then at the end, what are we supposed to be thinking about Anna?  Anna has killed three people, attempted to kill two more, has some dude doing hard time for a statutory rape which didn't happen, and has our hero tossed in the clink for murdering her, attempting double homicide and being a pedophile.  I'm not quite sure what the filmmakers want me to think about this character, since she's set up in the end for being an okay egg by letting the cops know John didn't actually murder her, but Anna could very well be the worst person on the planet Earth.  They need to find this terrible person and lock her away forever.

'Anna' certainly looked good and was well acted, but the script wasn't near clever enough to be the twisty mystery it wanted to be and our title character was horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  Kind of hard to get behind somebody like that.
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