Daycare assistant Anne has fallen, literally, in love. In the opening moments of Canadian director Kazik Radwanski’s sublime third feature film, she reels at the rush of her first ever skydive – that feeling of your body suspended in air, entirely untethered. Her increasing agitation and erraticism across the subsequent 70 or so minutes of this bitesize indie flick suggest that, because of this, gravity (and by extension, real life) has now become an inconvenience, good only for keeping her tied down.

Though the skydiving motif is woven through Anne at 13,000 ft as a neat metaphor, the real explanation for her proliferating difficulties is more elusive and certainly more complex. Mental health is messy and a grab bag of symptoms doesn’t necessarily point towards a tidy categorisation – Anne cannot be boxed in.

She is portrayed here by Deragh Campbell (who shares a writing credit for her meticulous on-set redrafting to refine the character), with that indie-ideal combination of childlike wonder and whimsy to match the children she works with alongside a deep, aching, hopeless ennui. The work falls in line with, say, Greta Gerwig’s in Frances Ha or Brie Larson’s in Short Term 12, but it is by no means derivative – Anne is fully-realised, utterly appealing and entirely perplexing, an infuriating wonder to behold, reinforced by an appealing supporting cast of adults and kids alike to fill out the edges.

With his lo-res camera trained in painfully close on the film’s subject and her exasperated loved ones, Radwanski proves his knack for empathy and scrutiny in this compact mumblecore treasure. Fleshed out with plenty of comedic appeal and pathos, Anne at 13,000 ft is a memorable reminder to check in with friends and family, and to understand that people are rarely fixed by quick, easy or simple solutions.

RATING: 5/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Deragh Campbell, Matt Johnson, Dorothea Paas, Lawrene Denkers

DIRECTOR: Kazik Radwanski

WRITERS: Kazik Radwanski, Deragh Campbell

SYNOPSIS: Even in her job at a children’s day care centre, Anne prefers fun to actual work and often alienates those around her with her erratic behaviour. Deragh Campbell gives a brilliant performance in this study of a woman teetering on the brink.

[TRAILER COMING SOON]