ANNE WITH AN E

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - SCREEN REVIEWS - Di­rec­tors: Niki Caro, He­len Shaver, San­dra Gold­bacher, David Evans, Pa­tri­cia Rozema, Paul Fox, Amanda Tap­ping { Net­flix }

Anne With an E is a new take on L.M. Mont­gomery’s 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables, and is nearly as en­dear­ing as the book it­self. It chron­i­cles the mis­ad­ven­tures of or­phan Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old girl who is ac­ci­den­tally adopted by sib­lings Mar­illa and Matthew Cuth­bert to help out on their farm, Green Gables.

It’s a fated pair­ing be­tween a pre­co­cious young girl and her sturdy, self-reliant care­tak­ers.

Through vivid panic at­tacks, view­ers learn about the abuse Anne en­dured be­fore coming to Green Gables. While th­ese diver­sions darken the bit­ter­sweet story, they serve pri­mar­ily to jus­tify Anne’s er­ratic, dreamy ec­cen­tric­i­ties that oth­er­wise be­fud­dle the Cuth­berts and their friends. Some fans may con­sider the flash­backs to be a diver­sion from the orig­i­nal story, but they give view­ers a plau­si­ble im­pe­tus for Anne’s des­per­a­tion to fos­ter in­ti­mate friend­ships and es­cape into her own fan­tasies. The flash­backs help her be­come a three-di­men­sional char­ac­ter whose odd­i­ties re­flect her com­pli­cated past.

Through­out both the book and the Net­flix se­ries, Anne is told that she should be grate­ful for what­ever is given to her, be it a new dress or a chance to have a tea party with her friend Diana. Time and time again, she is told that she’s un­de­serv­ing of any­thing be­stowed on her, even if those plea­sures, in­clud­ing puffed­sleeve dresses, are among the most mun­dane lux­u­ries her peers en­joy. They’re ac­tu­ally telling Anne to be hum­ble be­cause she’s poor.

At times, Anne’s in­abil­ity to read peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions in­duces sec­ond­hand em­bar­rass­ment. In one in­stance, she re­lays her mis­guided un­der­stand­ing of where ba­bies come from to class­mates. As her peers be­come vis­i­bly un­com­fort­able, she con­tin­ues to of­fer metaphors and de­scrip­tions well past the point of pro­pri­ety, which, given that she is 11, could have been toned down. It is dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that such an af­fec­tion­ate, avid char­ac­ter would be un­able to read those around her.

Anne talks a lot, whether or not peo­ple are lis­ten­ing. But in Anne With an E, she is not sim­ply strange and book­ish. She is op­ti­mistic be­cause her abil­ity to see the bright side of life is the mech­a­nism she has de­vel­oped to sur­vive poverty and abuse. At first it’s jar­ring, but her lo­qua­cious­ness becomes bear­able once the view­ers un­der­stand her past.

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