Chaotic Ana (Caótica Ana) (Director: Julio Medem): Chaotic is one way to put it. Train wreck might be more accurate. Annoying, artificial, absurd, and by the end, simply appalling. This was a real disappointment. I had been warned earlier in the week by some friends who saw the first screening, but I wanted to see for myself. Unfortunately, Medem has turned all the elements of his previous films up to 11, making this a jumbled mess of coincidence, chance encounters, performance art, hypnosis and an international cast speaking all the wrong languages. The director has clearly bitten off more than he can chew, and though the first half was at least watchable, I was annoyed by what appeared to be a kind of “show-off” attitude. Ana (played by the lovely Manuela Vellés) is a raw-talented painter living in a cave with her father on the island of Ibiza. One day, the slightly sinister Justine (Charlotte Rampling) arrives and offers to take her to Madrid and be her patron. Once there, she’s esconced in a decadent and mysterious house filled with artists of all kinds. Cue the pretentious art talk.
Then Ana begins to have powerful flashbacks and through a random encounter with experts in hypnosis, is suddenly the subject of numerous sessions exploring her past lives. Then she escapes as a stowaway on her friend’s father’s yacht and ends up in New York City, where both her handsome young hypnotist and Justine find her and take her to the desert, to discover her “true” self, the first in a long series of reincarnated women who all die violently at the age of 22. Still with me? There’s more. By the end, there’s even a ludicrous attempt to tie everything into the Iraq war.
Using intertitles to count down from 10 to 0, as in hypnosis, had one positive function. It let me know how much longer I had to endure. Even the sight of often-nude Ana wasn’t enough to make me stop wishing it would end. Medem is a talented director, but this was just self-indulgent and for that reason, it’s all the more disappointing.