Anne at 13,000 ft
Shaky, erratic camerawork that lurches around and shoots its subjects in extreme closeup has been a feature of many a bad indie film. And so it’s slightly disconcerting when Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 Feet unfolds with shots that are so jerky and close that it seems one of the performers might accidentally headbutt the camera. After a few moments, this aesthetic is largely unnoticed. By the end of the film it’s clear that this business of the camera is an obvious yet effective analogy for the business existing in Anne’s own mind.
Anne (Deragh Campbell) is a young woman living in Toronto, working in childcare. She goes to a wedding, meets a potential romantic interest, Matt (Matt Johnson), has a few issues at work, and that’s pretty much it as far as the plot goes. This is not a plot-driven narrative, and on paper it’s unlikely to sound hugely engaging, but Anne’s story (it’s an overstatement to call it a journey) is beguiling. Anne is managing an unspecified mental illness, and she’s not managing it all that well at times. But she gets on with things as best as she can, as most people would do in her place. It sounds like a rather slight piece of cinema, and yet Radwanski’s film is quite extraordinary in its sincerity.
There’s no tragedy here, no cheap melodrama manipulated into existence for the convenience of the narrative. The precise nature of Anne’s disorder is irrelevant, since the film is more concerned with its effect on her life (however muted it might be by cinematic standards). Campbell is a revelation as Anne. It would be so, so easy for a performer to overplay the role, emphasising the mania in Anne’s manic episodes, and the deflation of her depressive episodes. Campbell pitches it perfectly, playing Anne with the precise amount of restraint required. Anne at 13,000 Feet is a sublime and naturalistic encounter with mental illness in a way that is rarely explored in cinema.
Anne at 13,000 ft does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Anne at 13,000 ft here: