Review by Conall Cash (catabloguing.wordpress.com)
A film whose soundtrack I’ve known for a long time but which I never expected to get a chance to see, watching Anna at MIFF was a real treat. A little bit Funny Face and a little bit Blowup, as anarchic as Godard but also as loving an ode to the movie musical form as Demy, I guess Anna, which was made for French TV in 1967 and directed by Pierre Koralnik, could most succinctly be described as an extremely successful combination of Nouvelle Vague stylings and Serge Gainsbourg/Yé-Yé style rock’n’roll. With music by Gainsbourg and a cast featuring, aside from the man himself, Anna Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy and Marianne Faithfull, the film is a zany, endlessly entertaining delight.
Brialy, as the fashion advertising executive (or something) who falls in love with the photograph of a girl that he finds in his company’s dark room (note the Funny Face reference), doesn’t so much play a character as enact a sequence of poses of lovesickness, as if he were doing a theatrical performance of the fragments that make up Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. Karina, as the girl in the photograph who Brialy never recognizes as the same person because whenever he sees her she’s wearing a rather adorable pair of glasses, is also not really required to ‘act’ in any terribly dynamic way, but it’s to her credit that she manages not only to convey grace and loveliness, but to be genuinely convincing as a lonely, hopeful but often disappointed young woman, as her character is for the first part of the film. Gainsbourg of course has enough charm, wit and ‘screen presence,’ as they say, to steal the whole movie away from its two main stars, which is perhaps why he’s sensible enough to only show up for a couple of scenes. The musical sequences are brilliant not so much for their choreography as for their editing, which dispenses with continuity not for the sake of a Godardian ‘up yours’ to Hollywood, but because there’s just way too much fun stuff going on to bother with the conventions.
Anna Karina did another Q&A after this screening, which was rather more successful, as the immediacy of just having seen the film encouraged people to ask more direct and specific questions, and also because there was no David Stratton.