Anne+: The Film [2022] Netflix Review: An Important but Unfocused Mainstream Queer Drama

Anne The Film

There are certain stories in cinema that are fit for certain mediums. Of course, a solid short film by a breakout indie filmmaker can work well if extended into a feature film. We have a number of such examples from the last two years themselves. Similarly, we have entire spinoff shows dedicated to characters, subplots or settings from feature films. Anne+: The Film, which is the feature directorial debut of showrunner Valerie Bisscheroux, is different in those regards. It’s adapted from the namesake Dutch show which ran consecutively from 2018 to 2020. Basically, it adapts the whole show and condenses into a fresh one-and-a-half-hour Netflix feature film.

The premise might sound like a hollow coming-of-age story but it’s impressive. It revolves around Anne, a twenty-something lesbian writer who lives in Amsterdam. She’s just finished the manuscript for her first novel and submitted it to her publisher. Her plans are to leave this hometown of hers and move with her girlfriend Sara, who has recently migrated to Montreal. Only, her publisher has problems with the manuscript now. She criticizes the manuscript for its clarity. By now, it’s clear that the protagonist, a young girl, is aimless. Also, the writing is mumbling and endlessly talky.

To add to the dilemma, Anne is told by her girlfriend that she’s actually flirting with a girl out in Montreal. While this signifies the end of her relationship, it coincides with Anne’s confusion. She’s, much like her protagonist, more or less lost in life. She’s so distressed that at this point, she doesn’t seem to find her way around her life at all. This is where a non-binary named Lou arrives. And Anne’s relationship with Lou might just help her navigate through love, life and sexuality all at once.

Anne The Film

First things first, Valerie’s sensitivity and empathy demand applause. She proudly bears the flag of representation. Her story, whatever the medium be, is wonderfully sex-positive and has a distinctive fluidity to it. I admit that there’s a lot of contemporary pop-culture exposition here. But the commentary gets even more important because the way it’s served is palatable to the millennial audience spending hours on Netflix. Each frame is smeared in shades of different, vibrant colours. At other times, these scenes take place under the shade of an open sky. Look at those costumes designed by Akelei Loo- they’re as queer as they get but they scream ‘cool’ and ‘real’ all the way.

The writing is very strong in places. Maud Wiemeijer’s script is almost an expressive call to come out. It tempts all those closeted beings to come and explore the fun, love-filled and accepting the LGBTQ+ world can be. But it doesn’t deny that this very world is as real as all the others on this globe. It can be complex, suffocating and un-sexy. It is as populated with dilemmas and difficulties as the world lived by straight people. But it contains within it an undeniable sense of rebellion and euphoria. Perhaps it’s worthy of experiencing, something that Wiemeijer suggests in a very straightforward manner.

At its core, the film is a character study for Anne. And it’s conscious of what it wants to become. It follows Anne all the way through her aimless, bewildered mental state and through her joy when she performs in a drag photoshoot. These are remarkable scenes of gender fluidity decorated with sex, romance, and colours. The performances are also quite alright. Hanna Van Vliet, in particular, shows the exceptional form of Anne. She’s superb in the way she channels Anne’s boundless personality and it also works because the acting itself has to wear the ‘pride’ tag. Thorn Roos de Vries is another great discovery. In what is their debut performance, they imbue Lou with humor, heart, and a personality.

All this is good until the disoriented exposition is put to display. Anne+: The Film has speeches and conversations in loads. These are important dialogues on identity and sexuality. However, not every bit lands coherently enough. Don’t get me wrong, the Dutch drama is absolutely self-aware. It knows what it is and it’s unashamed of admitting its mainstream nature.

Related to Anne The Film: The 15 Best LGBTQ+ Films of 2017

But it spectacularly abandons its larger audience. Nothing about these persuasive invitations can undo the fact that coming out, in fact, is a tough process, if not especially long-form in the Insta age. I think it’s only fair that a straight audience is completely shunned from being the target viewership. But that’s also precisely why it becomes slightly irrelevant, if also important, for someone like me, who can never familiarise completely with the traditions and nuances. The writing generates empathy, which is a mark of honest and good writing. However, this sense of empathy itself is restricted. The editing plays a large part here- it switches from Anne’s past and present and informs us about what she is and how she is what she is. But it’s terribly flashy and sensationalized to make a mark.

Anne+: The Film is completely watchable as a mainstream drama navigating the real-world homosexual experience. It has lightness and sensitivity to the coast along with its good performances. However, it’s reluctant to come out of its shell and make its plea a bit more universal and a wee bit less idealistic. Which makes it generic and limited as a film.



Anne+: The Film Links – IMDb 
Anne+: The Film Cast – Hanna van Vliet, Jouman Fattal, Thorn Roos de Vries
Shashwat Sisodiya

Living a Hrishikesh Mukherjee life, dreaming a Wes Anderson world.