Queer film reviews: Anne+
By: Jess Ison
Welcome to my monthly Archer Magazine queer film review! I rate each film against my rigorous methodology of whether a film is better than Better Than Chocolate, the infamous and questionable 90s lesbian film. You can read my review of that film right here.
For this month, let’s dive in to Anne+, directed by Valerie Bisscheroux and released in 2021. As a heads up, this review contains spoilers!
Anne+ comes out of a relatively popular TV series of the same name. They both centre on Anne, a 20-something queer woman who lives in Amsterdam and has a bunch of queer friends and hook-up pals.
The series is okay, but let’s be honest: not much happens and Anne is kind of a dick.
But I know you’ve sat through worse queer TV shows.
Image credit: Netflix, 2021
In the film we begin with Anne, who’s in love with Sara. Sara’s just secured a job in Montreal and will be moving there soon. In a few months, Anne is supposed to join her. After a lot of calling each other “sweetie”, Sara is off and Anne is left walking around her emptying apartment.
Anne’s writing a novel. My friends, we’re absolutely not new to plotlines where the lead character is writing a novel that is just a thinly veiled autobiography of their queer life. So Anne+ feels like familiar territory, albeit with less manatees.
Predictably, Anne starts to have second thoughts about moving to Montreal for a range of reasons, one of which is prompted by spotting a cute drag king grinding on stage at a queer party.
Babe, we’ve all broken up a perfectly good relationship after having our head turned by a drag king grinding on stage. I mean, what else are your twenties for?
However, the plot thickens. Anne and Sara decided to be polyamorous months ago, but Anne doesn’t really want to be. Uh oh. Cue: shitty polyamory plotline.
Sara has a cutie in Montreal. Instead of Anne processing her feelings and talking through her needs, she slides into the drag king’s DMs.
The drag king, named Lou (aren’t they all?), meets up with Anne for a date.
They talk about what it means to be queer – the dialogue feels like what my first-year gender studies students spout in their essays. I love it. I want more of this on TV!
Because Anne is a bad character (or maybe it’s just that she is like 22 years old), she just stops taking Sara’s calls, avoiding the fact that she doesn’t want to move to Montreal. I mean, she doesn’t even have her passport and she’s meant to leave in two weeks. Mate, do you know how much extra it’s going to cost for express delivery?!
At the same time, her publisher tells her that her book is trash. Remember in The L Word when Jenny was told her writing needed improving, so she went silent for 48 hours and went on a date with Carmen? Anyway, I am not currently reviewing The L Word, but suffice to say: Jenny looked cute with that pixie cut.
To improve the book, Anne is trying to figure out how to make the stories about her friends more interesting.
She ends up hanging out with them all in Lou’s extremely bougie apartment. They all dress up in drag. Honestly, I just love hanging with my pals, dressing in drag and having stilted conversations about how Stonewall was led by trans women and drag queens of colour, while in some bougie Amsterdam apartment.
Okay, I’m being harsh. The writing in this scene was a little hard to handle, but I actually do love dressing in drag and talking queer politics. I just don’t have access to studio lighting. That being said, I wish we could learn more about queer politics in the Netherlands, but it’s probably too much to expect a film like this to unpack American imperialism.
Anne has a moment with her friends, crying about how much she loves them. Then they all get hot chippos. Relatable.
She goes on another date with Lou and this time, it’s on. They end up smashing back at Lou’s place. It’s a damn hot sex scene: it includes a moment where Lou pulls out their pink sparkly dick. Not gonna lie, I wasn’t mad at this.
There’s drama to follow though, because Sara has come back to town to find out if Anne is okay. Eventually, Anne tells Sara she loves her, but that she doesn’t want to come to Montreal. A huge fight ensues, in which Anne is a total dick. She brings up that she doesn’t want to be polyamorous and Sara is shocked, BECAUSE ANNE PREVIOUSLY SAID SHE DID.
Don’t say you want to be polyamorous if you actually don’t. And if you do change your mind, don’t blame the person you made the agreement with.
Sara nails it when she calls Anne a spoiled white girl. It’s the truth. Eventually Sara leaves in tears. It’s extremely sad, because I’d like her to have more screen time. She has the face of an angel.
Anne mopes around. Her friends are all there for her, and she realises the importance of queer friendship and chosen family.
She eventually finishes her book and the publisher loves it. The film ends with her sending a letter to Sara about how she’s changed and is better at communicating now. Which, it seems, she is.
Okay, this film was pretty fun and had a couple of good sex scenes (sadly without any paint or rolling around on a canvas).
The killer part of this movie is seeing Anne’s queer friendship group. They’re riding around Amsterdam, going to gigs, having brunch, talking queer theory at bars. It’s basically our lives, except with beautiful, airy, light-filled Amsterdam apartments… it seems Anne is rather loaded.
Actually, all the characters seem to be pretty wealthy. How can Anne afford such a fancy apartment if she just works at a bar like once a week? How does Lou afford an open plan apartment with extremely nice lighting? These 20-somethings definitely have trust funds, that’s for sure.
It’s pretty annoying that they are all rich. And while it’s important to include queer politics in queer films, the dialogue was often pretty unbearable. Anne is really unlikeable and I bet her book would be worse than Les Girls.
But ultimately, it had some good depictions of 20-something queer life, and Anne’s friends were so great. Also, heteronormativity usually sells us romance as the answer to our problems, but in the end, it’s queer friendship that pulls Anne out of her rut.
So, for that alone, I give it a rating of: better than Better Than Chocolate.
Jess Ison is an aficionado of queer media and loves every bad lesbian film ever made. In her professional life she is a researcher at La Trobe University. She lives with her dog on Wurundjeri land. Find her on Twitter.
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