US, 1987, 100 minutes, Colour.
Sally Kirkland, Robert Fields, Pauline Porizkova.
Directed by Yurek Bogayevicz.
Anna is a portrait of a Czech actress who had great success in her native country in the '60s, fell foul of the political system and came to America where she has had less than success. We see her in middle age, on the verge of collapse. An aspiring young actress comes from Czechoslovakia and insinuates herself into Anna's household, into her friendship. The young woman gets many opportunities to be an actress and takes an Anna's story as part of her own life. Film audiences will recognise the similarities to Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve.
Sally Kirkland won a Golden Globe as well as an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Anna. Pauline Porizkova is very good as the young Krystyna. The film was witten by Agdieszka Holland (To Kill a Priest) and directed by Yurek Bogayeviez.
The film gives an interesting view of theatre life in New York, the desperation of emigre actresses, a woman in middle age and her trying to cope with life.
1. The portrait of a woman, career, collapse? In an alien land?
2. The world of New York, the memories of Czechoslovakia, the apartments, the streets, the theatre, the beaches? The atmospheric score?
3. The feminine viewpoint of the film and feminine sensibility: writer, director, actresses? The comparison and contrast of Anna and Krystyna?
4. The plot: Czechoslovakia in the '60s, the freedoms, the development of the film industry, political difficulties, the emigres, American theatre and cinema? The use of the All About Eve plot? The initial introduction to Anna and waking and hurrying to the audition, Krystyna with her bags, looking for somewhere to settle? The interposing of the two lives?
5. Sally Kirkland's portrait of Anna: her age, her past (and the final glimpse of her performance in a film), her story, the Russians, her baby and its death, imprisonment, her relationship with Tonda, decision to go to the United States, the passing of the years, the failure, the work of her agent and her clashes with him, the audition and her not wanting to improvise, becoming the understudy? Moved by Krystyna's admiration? The bond between the two women, helping her, her image, confiding in her, joy at her success? Her relationship with Daniel, its ups and downs, her being severe on him and his writing? Her hardness, the clash with the agent, Krystyna and her meeting Baskin, urging her to phone him, to go for the weekend? The possibility of going on in the play and the opportunities being taken from her? Her behaviour at Daniel's party, the cake, her cracking? Her meeting the professor, the discussion about the past, her decision to stay in the United States, going to Tonda's party, the embarrassing sequence, leaving? Watching the television interview and her anger in Krystyna's taking the details of her life? Going to the theatre, her rage, spoiling the play? Going to the filming, her shooting at Krystyna and its effect? Her collapse? The break with Krystyna, a future?
6. Krystyna's arrival, age. beauty, naive or not? The objectivity of her letters home describing what happened and her relationship with Anna? The arrival, the admiration, the friendship with Daniel and his training herl at the agent's, meeting Baskin, the phone call and going to the Hamptons? Her rapid improvement in English, the possibility of a career? The film~ her interview and stealing Anna's advice about making up a life but stealing the details? Making the film, the shooting? Her letters home, her comment about Anna's behaviour? The end?
7. Daniel and his writing, love for Anna, his little boy and the outing, his dependence on his parents, the party, teaching Krystyna English, the bond with her, being her agent, the clash with Anna, their final fight? A new life for him?
8. The world of the theatre, the director, Deirdre and her admiration for Anna? The auditions, The Seven Ages of Women, the style of the auditions and the improvising, the women revealing themselves? Anna not revealing herself? The play and the possibilities of her going on? Her failure?
9. The agent and the pressure, the world of Baskin? Tonda's world and the party? The professor?
10. Her going to see her old movie, the irony of Tonda being in the audience, the couple making love? Her old self - the still on the screen and the film burning
11. Anna and relationships, isolation, relationship with Daniel but breaking it off, her trust and confiding in Krystyna but her anger against her? Portrait of a collapsing middle-aged woman?