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Anna and the King (1999)
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Review Date: December 09, 1999
Director: Andy Tennant
Writer: Peter Krikes, Steve Meerson
Producers: Lawrence Bender, Ed Elbert
Actors:
Jodie Foster
Chow Yun-Fat
Plot:
A widowed British schoolteacher is summoned by the King of Siam to his country in order to teach his children about the language of English and the world outside their own. The independent woman begins her teachings with reluctance, but shortly settles into her own, and inevitably learns much about herself as well. No songs. No dance numbers.
Critique:
A beautifully photographed motion picture. Wow. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to travel the world's most exotic places, until you realize that you will most likely bunk in two-bit hotels with no indoor plumbing, as opposed to Jodie Foster in this flick, who was put in a King's palace. It's only then that you will also start to realize that she's a rich Hollywood actress, while you're just an overweight, pseudo-movie critic who's still afraid to walk down his own street. Uhm, but I digress. That aside, this film was wonderfully shot in all of its majestical glory, exquisite cinematography, lush locations with plenty of exotic flair and original costumes. Truly of epical proportions. The actors in the movie were also right on, with a surprisingly rock-solid performance by Chow Yun-Fat. My God, who ever thought this dude could act? I've seen him roll down a stairwell with two guns blazing without losing the toothpick from his mouth, but go head to head with Jodie "I can make you cry at the drop of a hat" Foster, and kick arse? Yup.

Of course, that's not to take anything away from Foster, who as per her usual talents, comes through with all kinds of colors-a-blazin'. Much like Meryl Streep, Jodie always seems to be a consistent hitter, batting 1.000 whenever called upon. Even more importantly for the audience, the chemistry between the two thespians works in this film and that is extremely important for this tale, when you consider that much of the film is essentially a character study between these two strong individuals. Add to that some funny moments, some touching moments and a bit of history for ya'll, and this is one fine film. And what didn't I like? Well, I didn't think the story was rich enough to take up the entire two and a half hours that it filled, with a couple of ho-hum moments here and there. I also didn't appreciate the clean ending and the way everything was so simply resolved, but you know, after the visual feast that accompanied my eyes during the film's first 120 minutes, I was willing to forgive even that. All in all, a very good picture worthy of attention by the man named Oscar in at least a couple of his nominated categories at the end of this fine year in film. Oh yeah, in case you're not "into" subtitles, this film is loaded with them! I had no problem with this, in fact, I thought it helped further my appreciation of the story's authenticity (even though I know that many of the facts in this interpretation were slightly tweaked, but that's another story altogether.) Think SOUND OF MUSIC without Julie Andrews, maaaaaaany more kids and no songs :)
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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