Ana fun to be around

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS - Baden Baden

Mon­day, Au­gust 13, 7pm Davis Theatre, Whanganui Re­gional Mu­seum

Di­rected by Rachel Lang • Bel­gium/France • 2016 98 mins • M sex scenes, of­fen­sive lan­guage, nu­dity In English, Ger­man and French, with English sub­ti­tles

First-time di­rec­tor Rachel Lang de­liv­ers an ut­terly dis­tinc­tive and lively com­ing-of-age com­edy about a flaky French 20-some­thing search­ing for mean­ing in her life.


“De­spite your ugly clothes and your ugly hair, you’re re­ally cute,” an er­rant boyfriend, at­tempt­ing to be charm­ing, says to Ana, the hero­ine of Baden Baden. It’s true that Ana is al­most per­pet­u­ally dressed down, in jean shorts and tank tops, and she keeps her dark hair in a pixie cut that she doesn’t tend to much. But she is more than cute. Played by Salome´ Richard, she ex­udes an en­ergy that some might call coltish.

Baden Baden, the first fea­ture from the writer-di­rec­tor Rachel Lang (the ti­tle refers to the Ger­man re­sort town where Ana sug­gests tak­ing her grand­mother for a get­away), shows Ana ab­scond­ing tem­po­rar­ily with a rented Porsche that she had been driv­ing for a film pro­duc­tion; re­do­ing her ail­ing grand­mother’s bath­room in a some­times hope­less-seem­ing DIY project; and jug­gling var­i­ous amorous con­cerns. It’s very fresh and of­ten very funny stuff, com­mu­ni­cated in a di­rect, un­forced style.

The movie is so un­con­cerned with nar­ra­tive mo­men­tum, how­ever, that the viewer may be apt to for­get there’s even a story in the first place. This is not nearly as an­noy­ing as it might sound. That’s partly be­cause Ana is such good com­pany. And things do hap­pen, and even­tu­ally not all of them are pleas­ant. Ana weath­ers them with good hu­mour, in­tel­li­gence and, most of all, open­ness. Open­ness to the world, and also to the fact that she’s a lit­tle lost in it. While this is the fur­thest thing pos­si­ble from a mes­sage pic­ture, Baden Baden does make a per­ti­nent state­ment, one rare in movies to­day: that be­ing os­ten­si­bly aim­less in your mid20s not only isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can also be kind of fun.

A still from Baden Baden.

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