Trying to Find Solid Ground: Our Review of ‘Anne at 13.000 Ft’

Trying to Find Solid Ground: Our Review of ‘Anne at 13.000 Ft’

The details make all of the difference in Kazik Radwanski’s third feature Anne at 13.000 ft. From telling first date drink orders, to passive aggressive snipes from co-worker, this world is one we’re in for just seventy-five minutes. Yet, it is one where the details build a world so real, even this short duration feels like it might be too much.

Cassavetes is the main referent here. I will likely mention his name innumerable times throughout the course of this review. However, it is the easiest place to start when discussing Anne. As much as statements like this carry little meaning, this is the closest I believe a film in 2020 can get to being a John Cassavetes picture.

This can be most easily found within the film’s visual style. Like all good Cassavetes-like films, there is a tension effervescently boiling below the surface of Anne. It’s found in the increasingly present smash cuts to black, and progressively frantic editing style. Most ardently contributing to this effect is the work of cinematographer Nikolay Michaylov, who’s handheld camerawork pokes and prods its subject. Anne at 13.000 ft is almost exclusively shot in close-ups, but this proximity feels invasive rather than intimate.

The invasiveness of the film is what provides the film’s affective response. My one word of caution with Anne is that it is a lot of movie. It’s a combusting ball of tension for roughly the full seventy-five minutes. There’s a claustrophobia to the film, where you’re far too close to the subject to understand what is going on. It’s an uncanny effect. We naturally assume that being closer to a subject offers greater illumination, but with Anne Radwanski pulls a fascinating trick where we’re so close we have no idea what is happening.

Indie darling Deragh Campbell has had a prolific career thus far, and while I have not been able to see all of her work to date, this is her at her best. As Anne, a daycare worker in her late twenties with a crippling case of adolescentilism, and a whole host of other unrevealed mental neuroses, Campbell occupies a space of tragic fragility, reminiscent of the great Gena Rowland’s performances in Cassavetes’ golden age (there’s the Cassavetes again). It’s the little things, such her changing speech patterns, from adult-like amongst the children to child-like amongst the adults, that efficiently communicates all necessary information. Since I first saw the film as part of TIFF 2019, I was certain that it would be the best performance of 2019. I remained correct, with the only real challenger being Morfydd Clark in Rose Glass’ Saint Maud.

Two scenes exemplify the style Radwanski has employed here. The first involves Anne introducing new boyfriend Matt (Operation Avalanche director Matt Johnson) to her family. The family is completely caught off guard, as is Matt who presumed they were aware. The awkwardness of the situation is palpable, and the elliptical editing style increases this disorientation. Anne thinks this is a hilarious prank that she has pulled. No one else is amused.

Speaking of hilarious pranks, the second scene involves a run in between Anne and fellow co-worker over a cup of hot coffee Anne bring into the daycare. The confrontation they have border on volcanic, mere moments away from spilling into a full-fledged workplace nightmare. It merely holds itself to the level of a particularly uncomfortable spat.

Anne at 13.000 Ft is titled as such due to the film’s opening moments, where Anne goes skydiving. This is a story of a young woman trying to find solid ground. It is also the next for its director, someone who believes their films are perpetually in an evolutionary conversation with each other. Ultimately, regardless of if Radwanski wishes to move closer to being the heir apparent to Cassavetes or not, this is a hell of a full-force sky-dive towards that direction.

  • Release Date: 3/25/2020
This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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