Review by David Baldwin
When we first meet Anne (Deragh Campbell), a single daycare worker from Toronto, she is prepping to go skydiving for her best friend’s bachelorette party. The overwhelming experience and new sensation she felt jumping out of a plane changes her — she starts to be a lot more care-free at work and home, much to the chagrin of everyone around her. Very quickly, Anne begins spiraling and starts blurring the lines of what is socially acceptable and what is not.
After watching Anne at 13,000 ft. earlier this week, I immediately regretted skipping it at TIFF 2019. Writer/Director Kazik Radwanski has composed a terrific character study about a woman on the edge that is equal parts intimate and invasive. The film is shot entirely in close-up shots, and has a habit of shifting from absolutely riveting to completely unbearable in the space of a single breath. It always feels honest, and Radwanski never shies away from how uneasy a situation Anne is in — or how awkward she makes the people around her feel. It was a lot to take in watching on my computer monitor; I can only imagine how much more intense it would have been to watch on a theatre screen.
While the supporting cast is solid (including terrific work from Actor/Director Matt Johnson), no one can possibly compare to the captivating work from Campbell. As Anne, she captures your attention immediately and then never lets go. We see and feel her every emotion (sometimes in rather uncomfortable fashion), and watch helplessly as Anne’s spiral threatens to derail everything and everyone around her. There are points when you will hope someone on screen shakes her back into some semblance of reality, and other points when you will look on in terror hoping something horrible does not happen to her. It is a very tough balancing act, but Campbell pulls it off masterfully. She has a command of the screen that never dissipates, and is quite frankly, one of the most fascinating on-screen presences I have seen in a very long time.
At 75-minutes, Anne at 13,000 ft. is a bit too short and there were elements and relationships I wish were explored a bit better. But the stifling experience of watching Campbell be seconds away from going completely over the edge is genuinely enthralling. Her great performance and Radwanski’s wonderful direction is more than enough reason to recommend this Canadian gem.
Anne at 13,000 ft. is available to stream on the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox starting
Friday, February 19, 2021.