Streaming Review

Anne at 13,000 Ft. review – intimate portrait of undiagnosed anxiety

Writer-director Kazik Radwanski’s lo-fi drama centres on a troubled woman who finds a release through the act of skydiving

There’s a woman in free fall, in every sense of the term. The eponymous Anne (Deragh Campbell) is in mid-air, tumbling 13,000 feet towards the ground and only here, as she plummets, do her anxious worries begin to feel insignificant. It is a brief moment of euphoria for the soft-spoken 27-year-old who, in the midst of an anxiety plagued quarter-life crisis, is the subject of writer-director Kazik Radwanski’s impressive third feature.

Anne at 13,000 Ft. is Radwanski’s most intimate film to date, a suffocatingly close and piercingly personal portrait of what it's like to exist in a liminal state of anxiousness. The Canadian melodrama hinges on Anne’s mental wellbeing and wonders whether she will be able to weather the storm or be submerged by the debilitating waves of anguish.

Working with best friend Sarah (singer-songwriter Dorothea Paas) at a Toronto daycare, Anne’s mundane everyday conflicts are intercut with Sarah’s skydiving hen do. While she debates with highly emotional young children and prepares to fling herself out of a plane, the film orbits Anne with a tender but intrusive lens.

At Sarah's wedding, Anne meets Matt (actor and director Matt Johnson), with whom she quickly forms an intimate connection and who provides a respite from the men who look nothing like their online profiles and talk excessively about their insurance work. Radwanski keeps a tight focus on Anne and Matt as they giggle like misbehaving children while stealing balloons from the wedding reception. As the relationship continues, their giddy smiles shift into perturbed expressions, as Anne’s unpredictable nature pushes away this well-meaning suitor.

For Anne, loneliness is a crowded classroom of energetic children. Loyalty is to join in with her whimsical games of white lies. Through it all, there is a constant sense of yearning that seeps into the film's tightly framed headshots. The idiosyncrasies inherent to this performance are expertly handled by Campbell, who eschews sentimentality for interiorised reflection.

“What is wrong with you?” asks one of Anne's colleagues, following a sequence of relentless back-and-forth bickering, pushing Anne further into a spiral. She freezes. Then she crumbles. Placing the adrenaline-racing scenes of skydiving beside these quietly intense moments of anxiety, Anne at 13,000 Ft. fuses a mumblecore aesthetic with the force of a psychological thriller. A complex character study of a woman adrift in a whirlwind of her own emotions.

Anne at 13,000 Ft. is streaming on on MUBI from 29 September.

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