Anna Unbound (2015)
Directed by Bernd Porr
Starring Vasso Georgiadou, James Robson, Martin Sweeny
by Mason Manuel
The study of the mind is a strange thing, more so when the brain in question is our own. When the validity of our own memories comes into question a harrowing effect is created, resulting in a constant state of unease. This is what Anna Unbound achieves marvelously with its intelligent script and strong lead actress. Though the middle section drags with an extremely slow burn, those with the endurance to keep watching will be rewarded with a smart story and excellent finale.
Our story follows Anna, a young girl who recently left Athens to move in with her boyfriend in Glasgow. She’s doing more than just traveling though; there are dark memories that Anna has decided are better left behind in Athens and she is running from them. As one of her co-workers later comments, Glasgow is a kind of therapy for her. The rest of the film focuses on uncovering the mystery behind these memories as well as Anna fostering relationships with her boyfriend and new co-workers at her new job. While all supporting actors play their parts well enough, they are noticeably shallow compared to Anna herself. But maybe that’s for the best. Main actress Vasso Georgiadou gives a powerful performance as the titular character, showing a constant need to be withdrawn while still trying to meet her new friends. She tries to be an introverted extrovert which is a hard enough to live through, let alone imitate. It speaks volumes to the actress’s ability to bring a complex character to life.
The story treads the precarious ledge between dream and reality. In some cases these dreams may not be dreams at all, rather memories or nightmares or even a combination of the two. This is a difficult act to keep up but Unbound manages it gracefully. I only found myself confused once or twice when these “dream” sequences occurred, but normally once I thought more about it I understood the meaning behind the sequence. Another helpful hint is the use of lighting and cinematography here. When Anna is disoriented the view blurs, when a nightmare comes over her the lighting gets sinister, ect. The lens is as much a storyteller here as much as the script. Director Bernd Porr makes a good first impression with Anna Unbound being his first full length feature film, showing he knows how to use the camera as more than just a viewfinder.
My one issue with the film is that the story occasionally drags. Too much time is spent with Anna’s quirky office colleagues and boyfriend problems. Admittedly, many of these moments are entertaining but they detract from the main plot. Too often I would get a hint at Anna’s dark past and would then be treated to an instant cut away of Anna and company doing frivolous office work. The other actors are not bad by any means, but none of them are nearly as engrossing as Georgiadou. This is in part the fault of the script, which does little work to humanize the supporting cast. The one character besides Anna that does stand out is a mysterious figure with connections to her past named Robert (played by James Robson). He’s quiet and awkward but as we get to know him more he reveals himself to be more than what meets the eye. I wish that we had been able to spend a bit more time with his inner demons, but I’m satisfied with what we are given.
Anna Unbound is an excellent first go round by newcomer director Bernd Porr, with talented performances and clever camera technique. The script is expertly written which only occasionally comes off as clumsily executed or drifting from what should be the focus of the film. This intoxicating tale delving into the psyche of Anna is a great first go round and leaves me excited to see what this crew will whip up next. RDR gives Anna Unbound a 7.9 out of 10.