Ana fun to be around
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.