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The come back of a psychiatrist who turned into a devoted admirer of woman’s beauty
“My sister Ana Medem was a painter, and she still remains it through her paintings. I’ll enlighten the beginning of this trip without setting the feet on the floor, above enough to suffer as little as possible. On 7 April 2001, my sister celebrated her largest exhibition of paintings at a winery resort in Carignan, south of Zaragoza, Spain. Arriving by car to this wine region I again recognized the reddish hue of the landscapes of Tierra (Earth), my third film that I shot there five years back. My sister should meet us, relatives and friends, at the entrance hall of the exhibition. That is, the people she most wanted were waiting for her, by a closed door that she should open. A few minutes before the fixed opening time, three kilometers away, my sister died in a car accident. We did not enter the exhibition. I have in my mind a full moon in the sky in late afternoon, almost red, and almost over the highway, while driving my car to Zaragoza
The next day, before they closed my sister’s coffin , I decided – and I told her – that one day I would shoot a film on her. ”
[My journey with Ana, Julio Medem, El País, 12 August 2007]
Ana is a free spirit who turns her passion for life in painting. Justine, a cosmopolitan patron, invites her to complete her training in Madrid with a group of artists she sponsors. It will be the beginning of a journey, not only physical, which will lead her to discover new continents, past lives and ancient myths. Ana attempts to break the chain of ancestral violence looming on doors painted in a wall, and at the end of the adventure she will choose if she becomes a monster or a princess.
Medem still retains much of what I admire in the storytelling way of a camera movie. Recurrent elements, if you may, always pull on the emotions and sadness that turn into beauty, like Ana´s image at sea, a resource that Medem already used in Sex and Lucia –whereas on this occasion it is brought to mind through young actress Manuela Vallés.
This appeal to aesthetics – and the use of music, wind sound or photographic colors as part of the plot – makes many of us love this film director with the same force as many criticize him for the same reason, turning Medem into the objective of the same worn arguments that were pointed against Kieslowski or the Dogma filmmakers.
We face first and foremost a good artwork – sometimes very close but not yet a masterpiece – that does not achieve the freshness of Sex and Lucia and Lovers of the Arctic Circle. In my opinion, the best films of Medem are those who have delved into the intimate territory and madness of human beings without needing to explore beyond their natural environment for survival. Whatever the case, and after having been attacked by the fascists for the documentary The Basque Ball: Skin against Stone, the come back of this unique psychiatrist, that has become a devoted worshipper of woman’s beauty, is good news.
After the wonderful Lovers of the Arctic Circle and his masterpiece Sex and Lucia, Chaotic Ana is an intense and ambitious film, beautifully acted – though some characters are undeveloped (Charlotte Rampling’s).
It is noteworthy that the British composer and pianist Jocelyn Pook is the person behind the original soundtrack.