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Movie Reviews

Anne Trister  

Anne Trister is a small Quebec film, directed by LeÓ Pool (Movements of Desire) in 1986. This is a film of somewhat less-than-profound aims, but interesting in a way due to its simple charms.

Anne is a artist who has just suffered from the death of her father, and to get away from her former life for awhile, she leaves her Switzerland home, and her recording engineer boyfriend, and moves to Quebec. While there, she also runs into an old friend of her father`s, who gives her a decent place to stay at a neighbour`s house, and also gives her an abandoned building to work on her art.

The woman she stays with is Alix, a child psychiatrist. The two get along smashingly, but a peculiar thing begins to happen. Anne clearly is falling in love with Alix. It's peculiar because the script doesn`t make a big show out of it. This is not one of those painfully self-conscious stories of people "coming out of the closet", and saying how great it is to be gay, and other such nonsense, but, rather, it just simply happens. There is a nice scene showing how Alix still attempts a sense of decorum even after Anne goes so boldly as to kiss her before she leaves. It`s quiet, and doesn`t attempt to create a painfully melodramatic moment.

There is also a subplot involving Alix and one of her child patients, a girl named Sarah. This kid has an intense demeanour and is clearly disturbed in a number of ways. While it is unclear why she is behaving this way, you will understand that whatever it was, it has left a complex array of problems in its wake, and numerous scenes of "acting out" with the psychiatrist. The most chilling of these situations is when Sarah plays a "game" in which Alix is a mean mommy. Sarah then ties Alix up, covers her mouth with tape, and proceeds to scream out painful words and obscenities.

All of these scenes are dark and fascinating, and worthy of a movie of its own. That`s why I was very curious as to why they were included in this movie, presumably about Anne. Sarah is interesting to watch, but we don`t know a lot about her. We can guess as to why, especially during the scene I have just described, she has all these problems. But since we don`t get much information, we can become a bit lost.

But since my brain works in mysterious ways, I couldn`t help but to arbitrarily search for a purpose for these scenes. And the hypothesis I attempted approaching was the possibility of parallels between Anne and Sarah. And, strangely enough, I might have found them. It all started with the editing. There was a moment when I was lead to believe I was watching a flashback to Anne`s youth. But it actually was our first sight of Sarah, on a video Alix is examining. And there are other moments where the editing and the writing suggest some kind of relationship between the adult and the child. Alix tells Anne of the first time Sarah asked for help: "She said 'I have no family and I break things'" And we see Anne in a more subdued version of that predicament, as she becomes frustrated with her art, and feels devoid of family. In Anne`s case, however, Anne still has a mother, yet behaves as if she is no longer part of her life.

Possibly, the parallel lies in the fact Alix saves both these people from total despair. Alix allows Sarah to no longer feel hostile to the adult, confusing world, and also allows Anne to express her own problems, and loneliness, and becomes the true friend she has been looking for.

The final thing I must say is that the soundtrack contains some of the most cheesiest synth music ever heard in an "art film". Only in the 80's would a movie get away with such tacky rhythms. The odd thing about it, strangely enough, is that the music removes the potential pretentiousness and just gives you a story. Granted, it's an incomplete, unsure script, but it`s a nice little movie to waste 90 minutes with, at any rate.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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