Review by Jack Foley
OBSESSED and psychopathic women have been terrorising men ever since Clint Eastwood was asked to Play Misty For Me – but usually as a result of some indiscretion that’s been committed against them.
Michael Spinosa’s French thriller Anna M differs from the usual format in that the man in question is actually quite innocent, which makes the woman’s rage all the more terrifying.
Isabelle Carré plays Anna M, a shy Parisian woman who begins to get dangerously obsessed with the doctor (Gilbert Melki) who treats her following a car accident that leaves her with a broken leg.
From then on, every move the man makes – from the slightest gesture to the most virulent denials – are interpreted by Anna as evidence of his love – and so she follows him, spies on him, steals his mail and eventually does everything in her power to be with him, oblivious to the fact that he is in fact happily married.
Spinosa’s film tackles the combined issues of pathological jealousy and erotomania and was inspired by the novel La Jalousie Amoureuse by Daniel Lagache [a collection of clinical studies of both conditions].
Hence, it follows Anna M through the four stages of erotomania – illumination, hope, disappointment and hatred. Audiences will probably be able to guess what direction the ensuing movie takes.
However, what begins as a strong and initially gripping premise loses momentum as it approaches its final act and follows Anna M post-meltdown into her treatment and beyond.
It’s then that the movie strains credibility and veers from frighteningly realistic to just plain annoying, especially in light of the decisions made by certain key characters. It undermines the good work that has come before.
Carré is excellent as the unhinged Anna M and some of her exploits genuinely shock but Spinosa doesn’t give his other cast members much to do except look perplexed, sympathetic or annoyed.
The end result is a film that, like its central character, tends to become obsessive at the expense of logic or anyone else.
(In French, with subtitles)
Running time: 106mins
UK DVD Release: February 18, 2008