[FILM REVIEW] WHERE IS ANNE FRANK Review (2022)


Summary:  Kitty, the imaginary girl who Anne Frank wrote to in her 1940s diary during WWII, seeks out the deceased diarist while also inspiring a wave of modern social justice for refugees.

Year: 2022

Cinema Release Dates:  23rd June 2022 (Australia), 12th August 2022 (UK), 18th March 2022 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Netherlands , Israel

Director: Ari Folman

Screenwriter: Ari Folman, Anne Frank

Cast: Nell Barlow (Elsa Platt (voice)), Skye Bennett (Margot (voice)), Emily Carey (Anne Frank (voice)), Sebastian Croft (Anne’s Peter (voice)), Ari Folman (Officer Van Yaris (voice)), Michael Maloney (Otto Frank (voice)), Ralph Prosser (Kitty’s Peter (voice)), Ruby Stokes (Kitty (voice)),

Running Time: 99 mins

Classification: TBC

OUR WHERE IS ANNE FRANK REVIEWS

Kyle McGrath’s Where Is Anne Frank Review:

I love animated films either made for adults or with more mature themes. The films of Pixar or Studio Gibli have shown us many times over the years a single animated picture can be used to entertain children and adults alike with both appreciating it for different reasons. It’s important to remember that animated films can be used to excite but also educate audiences of all ages with important messages.

Where is Anne Frank is an animated drama following historical events with a fictionalised fantasy twist. It follows the journey of ‘Kitty’ (voiced by Ruby Stokes) the imaginary friend Anne Frank (here voiced by Emily Carey) wrote her famous diary to as a tactic not to be writing to herself. Kitty through magical means comes to life in the modern era unaware of what has happened to Anne since her final diary entry. Flashing backwards and forwards though the decades we are presented with the heartbreaking story of Anne’s confinement as well as Kitty’s adventure throughout modern day as she experiences it in the face of Anne’s legacy.

While not a direct follow up to Waltz With Bashir (that would be the lesser appreciated The Congress) this is the latest film by Israeli born filmmaker Ari Folman with a creative use of animation in order to tell a documentary like story.

The idea of Kitty being the main character was an inspired choice as a way to both introduce us to Anne Frank who we all know but also to reflect what Anne Frank’s legacy means to us today. The ravages of time, censorship and endless retelling of history have inevitably led to a bastardisation of the facts and Folman does not shy away from saying that despite honouring Anne Frank by naming schools, streets, theatres and hospitals after her along the way the humanity and the soul of this young girl might be overlooked.

Not to mention turning the annex in which she and her family hid from the Nazis for years into a tourist attraction though done in the best of intentions is meaningless if nothing is truly learned from the experience in how we conduct ourselves today.

The animation throughout the film was stunning. I am not educated enough to know whether this was a true old style hand drawn animation however it was infinitely more soulful than something like the recent Chip n Dale film was. Likewise the mixing of 2D with 3D characters & environments blended in a flowing way and never took me out of the movie. There was always something real about the characters and how they were presented which couldnt have been achieved I think with a live action experience.

Both Stokes & Carey in their respective roles as Kitty & Anne were amazing. Two different actresses essentially playing the voice of the same true life figure worked much better than I believed it could have. Again simply dressing up modern day actors in period clothing would not have achieved the same level of emotional authenticity I believe this movie did using animation. There were times I felt that maybe having English speaking actors was a little bit anachronistic however years of ‘Hollywoodised’ historical films made this a non issue. Ironically the only voice which felt out of place was perhaps that of Ari Folman himself in his cameo voice role as a police officer Kitty interacts with in the modern timeline.

I feel that this movie achieved something brave by essentially telling us that in viewing Anne Frank as a historical figure and not seeing her as a true person we were like tourists stomping through her bedroom. Everyone knows what happened to Anne however witnessing a depiction of this beautiful girl with such a big heart and imagination slowly losing that spark in her confinement was a terrible thing to see. Through Kitty’s eyes we see not so much the exact details of what happened or who betrayed the Franks but her learning that this friend of hers ended the same way as millions of other Jewish children and it is absolutely heartbreaking.

I did find Ari Folman’s insistence that we need to see Anne as a person and not simply a concept an apt conclusion. Unfortunately I believe he hurts the message then by recontextualising everything he achieved and attempting to compare her story and that of the entire holocaust itself to current day immigration issues in Europe. While Folman pulls back from comparing immigration officials to actual Nazis (as they alone are depicted in a stylised demonic way in the past timeline emphasising a lack of humanity) the entire conflation between the two comes out of left field and may be considered quite problematic in how lightly it takes both issues.

Where is Anne Frank is a beautiful yet heartbreaking portrait of a young woman who lost her life like many many others during one of the darkest times in human history. While I feel Ari Folman betrays his own achievements in the film’s final moments everything up until then was a uniquely special film enhanced by the animated style.

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