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ANNE AT 13,000 FEET (2021) review

September 24, 2021


written by: Kazik Radwanski and Deragh Campbell
produced by: Daniel Montgomery and Kazik Radwanski
directed by: Kazik Radwanski
rated: not rated
runtime: 75 min.
U.S. release date: September 17-26, 2021 (Facets Cinematheque, Chicago, IL)


When we meet Anne at the opening of “Anne at 13,000 Feet”, she seems to be in an environment that’s fitting for her. The camera moves in close and circles around her as she has a gentle and calm moment outside with a group of children as she shares with them a mesmerizing butterfly she has cupped in her hands. Director Kazik Radwanski fluidly shifts to a thrilling moment when Anne is about to sky dive out of a moving plane for best friend’s bachelorette party. It’s as if both moments are happening at the same time and the more time we spend with Anne, the more we realize that could be the truth for her. In these moments, she comes across as engaging and adventurous, but we will soon be reminded that there is so much more going on.

Indeed, the story co-written by Radwanski and lead actor Deragh Campbell revolves around the titular protagonist, a single twenty-seven year-old Canadian woman who works at a Toronto daycare center. She has moved into a place of her own for the first time, after her best friend Sarah (played by Canadian singer Dorothea Paas) got married recently. We learn more about Anne as the camera observes her than we do from the way in which character’s talk to her or about her. Anne (Campbell) can be highly focused on something almost to the point of a trance-like focus or quite skittish and erratic at other times. This can be jarring for those around her, but seems perfectly normal for her. It becomes apparent Anne is someone who should probably go easy on the alcohol intake (a perfect example is her speech at Sarah’s wedding reception) and maybe seek therapy, considering the way in which she deals with change or criticism from either her situation or those around her.



There are awkward and uncomfortable encounters that we watch Anne engage in, each of them expand on her perception of any given situation and confirm how she struggles with social interactions. Although she is genuinely good with children at her workplace, she has a hard time drawing the line between acting childlike and being the adult the children need. This gets Anne into a conflict with her older colleague Suzanne (Suzanne Pratley), when she is challenging for failing to adhere to the facilities rules. While Anne’s sensitivities gives us an understanding why she feels challenged and criticized by Suzanne, but any responsible (or reasonable) adult who’s held down a job will understand and side with Suzanne’s position on the matter. One night after work, Anne goes on a date with an insurance salesman (Pat Bianco) and it becomes an awkward and uncomfortable encounter with Anne paying more attention to her beer rather than giving the guy a chance. Maybe these scenes are meant to garner sympathy for Anne, but all they do is confirm this is a someone in dire need of weekly therapy and possible medication.

Any closeness with others that Anne can potentially experience is usually ruined by her. Her mother (Lawrene Denkers) tries to be helpful, but is often confounded and exasperated. The film could’ve benefitted from more time with her mother and possibly bringing up the subject of Anne’s mental state and any history of treatment or medication. It’s hard to believe that someone in her late twenties hasn’t sought out any type of treatment. As far as we know, she hasn’t – but the thing is, we don’t know, because it’s never brought up. There is still something alluring about Anne, which we see at her friend’s aforementioned wedding, where the groom’s best friend Matt (Matt Johnson) takes a liking to her carefree ways and is inevitably subjected to her emotional unpredictability and manipulation. This can mainly be seen when Anne brings Matt over to her mother’s place to introduce him to her family and casually mentions that he will be her husband and the father of her future child/children one day. That would make any guy uneasy and confused and it’s another confirmation that Anne really doesn’t know what to do with people getting closer.



“Anne at 13,000 Feet” is a frustrating watch at times, mostly due to how the aforementioned camerawork by cinematographer Nikolay Michaylov moves us in and out to the point where it induces our own anxiety while witnessing someone who should clearly receive treatment for her own. It’s an intentional approach, designed to give us an idea of how Anne sees the world, but a little goes a long way and after a while the approach becomes kind of draining.

As a character, Anne could easily be frustrating and annoying to some, and maybe even triggering since we likely know someone like her, but Radwanski and Campbell bring us so close to Anne that we’re able to become overwhelmed and smothered as she often does. We may not truly understand her or condone her actions and behavior, but at least we come away with an idea of how Anne feels. If it wasn’t for Campbell’s bold and immersive performance, Anne could’ve been an overwhelming presence throughout the entire runtime, but Campbell’s work is striking and quite captivating as she navigates the character’s unpredictable emotions in a loose and inhibited manner.

Throughout “Anne at 13,000 Feet” we go back to either footage of her skydiving at that bachelorette party and even returning to do it again on her own. It makes sense that this woman who is so uncomfortable in her own skin, gets a high off feeling the natural elements against her body as she free falls from the sky. It’s telling and quite interesting that this seems to be the only time she is calm and collected, when she floats high above where everyone else remains on solid ground. The only time she feels out of her self and above it all, literally and figuratively.







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