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#CANNES77 | Anora

#CANNES77 | Anora


There are directors whom time gives them the chance of a lifetime. Such is the case of Sean Baker and Anora. That time is now!

Baker is a filmmaker that proved having being through the stages of a burgeoning director, until getting to make the indie drama Starlet and capturing audiences with his next film, Tangerine, as the one shot with an iPhone. With this premise he proved that sometimes the production format does not matter as long as there is technique and knowledge, something that even Steven Spielberg cannot get tired enough of recommending to every student that asked him how to start making movies: “Pick up a camera, any camera and shoot something.” In the triad conformed by Tangerine, Red Rocket and now with Anora, there is a point in common: Baker is interested in peripheral characters, those that in some way are left aside by society, among them the prostitute, the porn actor or the pole/slap dancer. Baker is comfortable with it and already got used to portray them.

Anora features Mikey Madison (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Scream) in the leading role, a slap dancer whose life is only effective at night, the only moment in the day where she can make new friends and enemies within her working environment, only to later, when she returns to her room, exchange few words with her sister, with whom she lives with, which are mostly complains about unmade house chores.

One night she meets Ivan, a Russian in his twenties, with whom she conceives a special connection and therefore decides to enter into a paid sexual relationship outside her working environment where such transaction is prohibited. Upon entering what would be Igor’s manor, Anora starts seeing, partly, a dream come true, encounters become repeated and intensified, the dates multiply and become group gatherings, everything within a scope of extreme fun reminiscent of The Hangover seen, for instance, in their getaway to Las Vegas. Although many made compared Anora to Pretty Woman, Anora is very different from the latter: it is not a fairy tale, not by a long shot, and the protagonist cannot see herself as a variation on Cinderella. This brings to mind a comment made by actress Helen Mirren upon the release of Pretty Woman, describing it a Disney movie which proposed with great fanfare that for a woman to achieve her dream of getting married she should become a prostitute, something rather extreme.

Luckily, the radical turn Anora takes to not become a Disney movie is definitely what makes the film one of action and being on pursuit from the Russian mob, an unstopping frantic comedy and one of those you cannot help but to look in awe and even hoping for it to never end. The involvement in what happens is immediate, therefore the empathy with the characters is imminent. Both Anora and Ivan are the pillars on which Anora stands; they are young, have chemistry and surprise when they are together in front of the camera as well as when they are apart.

Also, in a supporting role that will acquire notoriety, we find Igor (Yura Borisov, that revelation in Compartment No. 6), however it is Mark Eydelshteyn (Ivan) who has the potential of becoming the Russian answer to Timothée Chalamet, but unlike the New Yorker and like Caviar, this is the good stuff.

Director, Screenwriter: Sean Baker. Cast: Mikey Madison, Mark Eydelshteyn, Yura Borisov, Karren Karagulian. Producers: Sean Baker, Alex Coco, Samantha Quan. Runtime: 139 minutes.

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