The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - WHERE IS ANNE FRANK | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - WHERE IS ANNE FRANK

Where is Anne Frank review
Anne Frank's imaginary friend sets out to find her in modern day Amsterdam.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Ari Folman

Starring: Ruby Stokes, Emily Carey, Sebastian Croft, Ralph Prosser, Michael Maloney, Samantha Spiro

Where is Anne Frank poster

Like everyone else who has visited Amsterdam, I went to the Anne Frank house once. It was overwhelming but not in the way you might imagine. Scaling the narrow staircases at Prinsengracht 263, filing through the rooms and spaces with the rest of the tourists, passing through these ungraceful areas where people lived their last in dignified fear, what gets to you is how non-discriminatory the experience appeared to be for the crowds. Hundreds upon hundreds of people lining through the Achterhuis and past the lives of the Frank and Van Pels families (and Fritz Pfeffer) in the same way they had the Van Gogh Museum yesterday and they would the Science Museum later that afternoon. A rote nonchalance, of turning up at a place because it’s there, another tick off the Amsterdam itinerary; executed with an abiding lack of actual engagement with the surroundings. It’s an uncomfortable observation shared by Where is Anne Frank, Ari Folman’s magic realist animation which segues between a realisation of the diary and the contemporary reception of Anne Frank and her words. At the start of the film we witness early crowds queueing at Westermarkt 20, and then, in a flawless replication of the real-life experience, simply ambling through the rooms; maybe taking in the period details, shuffling past the makeshift bedrooms with a nod; a right bunch of lookie-loos (one of which, I’m certain, was meant to be actual Tom Cruise - weird).

Where is Anne Frank review

Our conduit through the film is Kitty (Ruby Stokes), who is a manifestation of Anne’s (Emily Carey) imaginary friend created to stave off loneliness. Kitty emerges from the ink and paper of the diary late at night, a tulpa whose purpose is at first unclear. She observes the throngs of people as a ghost and is nonplussed as to Anne’s whereabouts. Kitty duly hooks up with Peter (Ralph Prosser), who is a street thief and affiliated with Amsterdam’s burgeoning refugee community. Visible only when she is away from the house, and prone to dissolving into ink if she strays too far from the diary, Kitty’s precarious existence is Folman’s metaphor for how Anne and the diary are perceived. In her search for her friend, Kitty is shown the various establishments and features of Amsterdam which bear Anne’s name, and which form the fabric of the city’s tourist industry. In one scene she attends a dramatization of the diary at the Theater Amsterdam (dedicated to the play) and causes a scene by pointing out the creative liberties taken by the piece. All the while, Kitty witnesses homeless refugees rounded up by the Politie, and later, visits the derelict high rise where they hide. As she spends more time in the Amsterdam of the future (the opening title card informs us that events take place ‘A year from now...’), Kitty discovers the ultimate reality of her maker and best friend.

Where is Anne Frank review

Where is Anne Frank expounds the concept of Anne Frank as an idea, not a symbol: as an (important, redemptive) figment of an imagination made concrete, Kitty personifies this notion. Via beautiful, flickering animation, we see a story which has been told so many times in fresh configuration, propelled by an urgent plea to re-evaluate its implications within a modern world. In a conceit of bravura satire, Amsterdam is emblazoned with cheerful billboards extorting its denizens to ‘Find the Diary!’, as if the purloined journal is hidden treasure in some mad tourist quest. The house itself is vandalised and broken into several times during the story, too: a comment on its quotidian perception in the city? As a freshly minted being to whom even the everyday interchanges of life make little sense, the eventual full horror of Anne’s fate is beyond Kitty’s understanding, as it should be for us all.

Where is Anne Frank review

As the moving denouement of Where is Anne Frank posits, the story has become moral comfort. We see the play, read the diary, pat each other on the back, mutter ‘yeah, that was bad’ before moving on and dismissing the implications of the event. We make reassuring mythology from an ordinary misery (the amount of school assemblies I’ve witnessed where a quote is taken from the diary, and decontextualised as part of a glib diatribe about resilience and passing appallingly tone-deaf appropriation). A brief scan of Where is Anne Frank’s wiki page alarmingly boasts that the film ‘was a box office bomb’ in the US (sensitive choice of words there, mate), which is a shame.  Folman’s film is for the most part joyous, and fun, and quite lovely in its drawing of character and its sumptuous visuals (the auteur even makes concessions towards a more commercial appeal, with would-be exciting and gravity defying ice skate police chases about Amsterdam’s canals - the unlikely amusement of which this reviewer didn’t take to, but which the film’s younger target demo will probably welcome as respite). Where is Anne Frank deserves to find an audience based on its cinematic pleasures alone, in addition to its reinvigoration of Anne’s story and its emotive rhetoric.

Where is Anne Frank is in UK/ROI cinemas from August 12th.

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