VOD film review: Anna Unbound
Chris Bryant | On 29, Jun 2016
Director: Bernd Porr
Cast: Vasso Georgiadou
Watch Anna Unbound online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Vimeo On Demand
Anna is running. After a horrific assault in her native Athens, she uproots to Glasgow to live with her boyfriend, Josh (Martin Sweeney) in the hopes of avoiding her experiences. She finds a job, and friends, but not the peace she so badly needs. Anna’s past and present blur, until her grip on reality becomes an even bigger source of pain.
What Anna Unbound does well is construct a culture of ignorance around its central character. Everyone she interacts with, including her boyfriend, is cast in the light of her sexual assault. Their jokes seem callous, their demeanour seems insensitive, their flirting seems forced and slimy. Porr’s direction and Brocklebank’s writing ensures that everything is seen – and felt – from Anna’s perspective. Her isolation is inescapable for the audience and protagonist alike.
Vasso Georgiadou carries Anna’s burden with a subtle intensity that promises no moment is safe. The audience feel every one of Anna’s flares of panic, every questionable experience, every unwanted rush of adrenaline; all through Georgiadou’s uneasy movements and Bernd Porr’s unflinching use of close-ups. The pairing work well with such an upsetting subject, his eye for the discomfort of society’s gender roles balances with her portrayal of a person looking for somewhere to fit in, someone whose life has no room for looking back – an impossible choice when everything reminds her of what happened.
Eventually, Anna meets Robert (James Robson). The office reject, he doesn’t fit into the coarse banter and extramarital affairs perpetrated by his colleagues, and so becomes a target. Sensing another outsider, Anna becomes intrigued by Robert and sticks closely to him. It’s here that the film seems to struggle more. The visuals are still striking and the tone still deeply unnerving, but Porr seems to toil at getting his point across. Anna’s delusions overwork themselves, as though the writing loses confidence in the cast to portray such pain without the reality-skewing experiences to guide the viewers. Anna’s paranoia becomes less of a constant shadow to her life and gets forced to the forefront, which works as a character development (it has to come to a head somewhere), but also detracts from the stream of constant anxiety delivered by the first half.
The film’s quiet, lump-in-the-throat tension and insightful use of social dynamics combat the minimal characterisation and arguably clichéd final act. Establishing Anna’s tormented existence is certainly where Porr, Brocklebank and Georgiadou soar, as her fight back to reality feels so quick and vague it pales in comparison to her daily afflictions. The result is a thought-provoking, pretty picture, with dialogue and supporting performances that highlight the suffering of insensitive social situations – which is undoubtedly relatable to many – although it loses its edge when tackling the possibility of Anna’s freedom.
Anna Unbound is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.