For many privileged economically-sustainable families, daycare workers have shaped many toddlers into the people who we are today. Their kindred adolescent spirits have guided us towards a path of maturity, during hour-long waits for a drive-ride back home. I for one, would probably not even be writing these words at this current moment in time, if it wasn’t for the continuous encouragement for my passion of Thomas the Tank Engine. Without Thomas, I wouldn’t have taken the slightest interest in film, animation, and puppeteering. Now what about the workers themselves? As much as I’m indebted to the people who have continuously supported my persistence in year’s past; we rarely view these saints who have helped us grow, as susceptible, emotionally-strained individuals of the evolving middle-class.
Kazik Radwanski’s third feature Anne at 13,000 FT, is a bold 75 minute undertaking of pure social anxiety and distress. With Deragh Campbel front and center, who delivers on all fronts with an introverted and heavily improvised performance; we follow Anne, a daycare worker who triumphantly weaves her way through each monotonous day of work, as she faces conflicts with her loathsome co-workers, welcoming family, and awkward romantic episodes — all before reaching her eventual breaking point. There’s a sense of dread lurking in every frame in Anne at 13,000 FT. Shot nearly entirely in closeups, the audience is put in a perspective of nauseating movement, as we tag along on Anne’s journey of self-realization and human struggle. Each scene gradually becomes more hysterical, as the sound design escalates with the shuffling and shrieking of naive children and bickering grownups.
Viewing Anne at 13,000 FT is an incredibly nerve-wracking experience on it’s own, as we sympathize with Anne’s troublesome endeavors. Though well intentioned with its depiction of daycare workforce, the film abruptly halts with an unresolved finale. Whilst it demonstrates Anne’s visceral descent into workaholic panic, there isn’t much of a moral or lesson being told in the process. The film is a riveting character study on it’s own, yet it feels diminished due to its lack of thematic closure. We indulge into a world of relentless chaos and character-driven melancholy in the first two acts; with the third lacking in any attention or pace.
Unconventional and harrowing, Anne at 13,000 FT. is an unorthodox plunge into Canadian mumble-core. Hellbent on creating uncomfortable scenes of extreme stark realism, Campbel carries the film with her audacious characterization and fulfilled naturalness. Messy in its final minutes, though accomplished in general execution, Radwanski demonstrates once again his knack for personal cautionary stories of first-world domestic complications.
Anne at 13,000 FT screened at this year’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema. Cinema Guild will release the film in the coming months