"Thus open the gates of paradise."

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Anna And The King

06 Apr 2002

A sneak preview! How exciting! And was I ever ready for one too, having spent the better part of the day unpacking (The Front Page recently moved offices). What could be better than seeing a film with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat, followed by a free screening of "Being John Malkovich"?

Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat.
PHOTO: Fox Pictures

Wow. Does it ever look nice. They spent a lot of money on recreating the King's palace, and it really shows. The animals, the sets, the luster of the work is outstanding. And the costumes are a delight, from the native garb of Siam both common and royal, to the drab Victorian dress of the British, it's all very, very good.

One of the things I demand in a film like this is good photography. With so much to look at, it's pretty essential. There is a scene with Foster where both she and the director of photography earn their money. It's just her, emoting. And it seems to go on and on.

In contrast, the rest of the film seems to go on and on. I thought it was an uneasy mix of politics and the personal. Had it been one or the other, I think it would have been a better film. But a different film, obviously.

People ask me how Chow Yun-Fat makes out as romantic lead. It's a long way from "The Killer," but I think he does a reasonable job. Foster is fine as far as she goes, but I wish -- I wish I believed she was British. There. I've said it. I just don't buy her as a Brit the same way I believe Gwyneth Paltrow, for example. It could be just that I will always remember Foster from "Taxi Driver", or "The Silence Of The Lambs". Or "Maverick." There's an opus. And what about "Sommersby"? Eaugh. Sure, it's a business, and you have to work and do what's right for you. And yet... I just wish she would be in something really fabulous.

Related Sites

Official site (Trailer, production notes, tonnes of stuff)
"Anna And The King" on IMDB