Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
If the surreal dreamscapes that propelled "Inception" had taken place in the deep, dark and dubious recesses of a disturbed adolescent girl’s mind, it would look a lot like "Anna." It's as messy as a teen’s bedroom and packed with all manner of distracting clutter that needlessly burdens a plot.
This psychological thriller concerns a so-called memory detective, John Washington (played by Guy Ritchie regular Mark Strong, a rugged Jason Statham type but with more soul and less scowling), who can remotely view the flashbacks of his subjects and brilliantly deduce details about their cases. But he has been off his game after suffering a stroke during a session gone awry. That’s on top of grieving over the suicide of his wife.
After a two-year break and depleted funds, he agrees to enter the mind of Anna (Taissa Farmiga, a formidable presence who looks like a mini-me version of older actress sis Vera), a 16-year-old who is both "gifted" and "haunted," as we are so informed. Locked in an upper chamber of an imposing mansion like a Disney princess and kept under constant surveillance, she has been on a hunger strike for a week, has engaged in cutting herself and—perhaps—was involved in questionable acts at her school. His assignment: To pinpoint whether a trauma is at the root of her behavior or if she is a potentially dangerous sociopath who needs to be sent off to an institution.
Naturally, Anna’s family is more Addams than Brady. Her doubting stepdad (her father died before she was born) appears to be having an affair with the housekeeper (who, for some reason, wears a French maid’s outfit straight out of a Halloween catalog) and would control Anna’s inheritance if she is sent away for treatment. Meanwhile, her caring mom drowns her disappointments with drink.