Ana, Mon Amour : ‘TIFF’ Review
The contemporary relationships that I happen to see around me are mostly built on broken strands. Someone or the other needs to be fixed, and the significant other makes it a mission to do the fixing. While this co-dependence often forms the heart of the relationship – becoming a boon to the ever growing tenderness towards one another, it, in turn, becomes a curse too. Calin Peter Netzer’s “Ana, mon amour” explores love, addiction & co-dependency and how each one of them takes a turn in becoming a boon & a curse.
The film opens somewhere in the middle of a sentence. Toma (Mircea Postelnicu) & Ana (Diana Cavallioti) are sitting together in a college dorm-room, loudly discussing Nietzsche. While it sure feels like a common interest, their loud discussion is really a part of a flirtatious vibe that is only enhanced by the loud sexual noises in the background. Soon enough, the sexual vibes are all over the room as both Toma & Ana are seen on the bed. The on side of it is – Ana is having a panic attack and Toma is trying to calm her down.
Next, we see them is at a Music festival, sticking their tongue down each other’s throat. The young people are in love, and we as the audience are puzzled at the quick passage of time. That is until we are brought to a room of psychoanalysis where Toma is lying down on a couch just a puzzled as we are. He is trying to deconstruct his long relationship in front of the psychologist and we all know how memories work. They come flashing down on us, without specifying what sequence it followed under the time continuum. Which is why Netzer follows an often confusing non-linear narrative where we spend time with this long-term relationship over a decade.
Ana is disturbed. We soon get to know that it has something to do with her past and there’s nothing much that can be done to instantly fix it. Her constant use of medication over the years have only made things worse for her. The constant dizziness & depression of past traumas have left her with a kind of existence that needs a helping hand. While Toma & Ana visit Ana’s parents we get a sense of abuse on the part of her step-father, their visit to Toma’s parents isn’t pretty either. Since the film is seen from Toma’s controlling perspective, we are likely to see Ana’s existence as that of a person suffering from mental illness. While we see Toma as a reliable & caring person who goes to extreme measures in order to make Ana feel all right.
*The following paragraph may contain spoilers*
However, the flip side of it all is Toma’s existence too. While Netzer explores the various aspects of healing one has to go through in a Romanian society (especially the religious one), his main aim is exploring love and addiction and that common place where love & attachment are so closely related to one another that finding a different becomes a paranoid deep-dive into chaos. As Toma spends most of his life taking care of Ana’s needs and wants, he is left with doubts & remorse once Ana starts living a normal life. There’s mental illness at the core of this tale, but Toma isn’t far away from it either. The sense of control that he has derived into his life has now become an addiction of sort. So, what is it that binds the two people together? “Ana, mon amour“ is about that.
Netzer’s film demands your complete attention even though with every passing memory it tells you to drive the same message home. It is a brilliantly written film that uses its nonlinear approach to indulge you into this relationship that breaks your heart a thousand times over. However, it becomes really difficult to be involved in a scene right-away, as we are left with Toma’s receding hairline as the only link to the time aspect of this long-term relationship. Some of the narrative strands float into and out of the film without doing much of anything and the change in character dynamics feels kinda abrupt.
That being said, “Ana, mon amour“ is an expertly crafted, well-acted, complex & poignant drama that only staples Netzer as one of the best directors working today. It makes love feel like a penance. The film, on the other hand, justifies what makes it one.