PIFF 2022: Anima – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 2 minutes, Director – Liliya Timirzyanova

Conductor Anna (Alina Korol) leaves her life to live alone in the quiet of the forest, however when chorister Aglaya (Elizaveta Shakira) arrives to convince her to return the two begin to form an almost silent relationship.

Anima is one of those films which is difficult to review, or even properly talk about, partly due to the fact that it’s difficult to know where to start when discussing it, and from there what to properly say about its details and elements. Perhaps this is because for much of the film it’s hard to understand what’s actually going on, or what’s trying to be said. However, the best place to start is likely at the beginning where the most coherent content lies. For the most part we follow choir conductor Anna (Alina Korol) who suddenly leaves her life as it is to live along in the quiet of the forest. We see her contemplatively staring at the sea before retreating amongst the leaves, trees and bushes. However, it appears that the choir cannot cope without her guidance, as is slightly glimpsed at as she begins to fade away from them in the opening few minutes, when chorister Aglaya (Elizaveta Shakira) finds her and asks her to return.

From this point on the film gradually begins to unravel something of a relationship between the two. Amongst the silence of their surroundings, and indeed Anna who says very little over the course of the piece, there’s something of a meditative connection formed between the two as they begin to spend their lives together. The film appears to want to say that time is slowing down for them, they may even be in an entirely different realm away from the rest of the world. Everything could very well be a metaphor. A metaphor within a metaphor. Metaphors layered on top of other metaphors to make a metaphor sandwich. Or perhaps everything is rolled up to create one giant metaphor. As the film engages this course and begins to travel down it it moves further away from the viewer as it’s increasingly difficult to understand just what’s going on, or what the film is trying to be or say.

The core point appears to be about life and death, particularly during some of the longer shots which observe the two characters going about their basic tasks, such as eating at opposite sides of a wide shot. The structure moves away from something with narrative leanings to more a collection of shots, moments and ideas. Beats with little to connect to, alongside little clue given as to what’s actually happening at any point. Rarely is there a chance to try and engage with the film after a certain point as it simply carries along it’s path with little coherence or glimmer of referencing back to a core sense of communication between the pair. Things simply happen, or rather don’t, as they go about their lack of business in the forest.

It’s a saving grace therefore that the film itself is only 62 minutes. While the opening stages are used fairly well with the initial points raised they only act as a depiction of ‘before the forest’ for the two characters, particularly Anna. While the early stages in the wilderness do have some mild levels of interest things soon slip away into the realms of metaphors, shots and ideas. Linked together with little to interest the viewer or keep them in the piece. You simply remain watching in deep confusion as to what everything is actually meant to mean.

Anima’s initial set-up is soon abandoned as the silent relationship of the two central characters becomes a selection of brief shots, moments and ideas. All of which feel like some form of metaphor which you can never quite get your head around in the eventually lengthy 62 minute run-time.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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