With a largely British cast, a Spanish director and a mix of American and European money, it’s fair to say that Mindscape (released as Anna in the US) is a pretty international production. It follows John (Mark Strong), a memory detective who is able to use technology to go into other people’s minds and see their memories. However following the death of his wife and then suffering illness, he’s no longer at the top of his game.
To help him out he’s given what should be a relatively easy assignment – to go into the mind of 16-year-old Anna (Taissa Farmiga) to find the psychological root of her refusal to eat. Her father seems certain his daughter is dangerous and needs to be locked up, but very quickly from what he sees in her mind, John begins to suspect there might be something else going on.
However, how trustworthy is Anna? And just because he can see her memories, does that really mean he can really figure out what’s going on?
Despite sounding a little bit like the set-up for a TV series, the premise of Mindscape is a good one, with plenty of promise for where it could go. However it all depends on what you send the memory detective off to do as to how good the film will be.
On that score the results are middling. There’s no doubt that it keeps you interested as to whether Anna is the nutcase her father seems to think or whether she’s essentially being railroaded by things beyond her control. However it suffers from the fact that for the first half the whole memory detective thing seems like an unnecessary gimmick – it just comes across as a fancy way to fit in lots of flashbacks – and when it does become key to the movie, Mindscape starts to get a little bit too silly. Indeed the denouement, while somewhat entertaining, doesn’t really bear scrutiny as it’s an incredibly convoluted and risky plan that doesn’t completely make sense.
The cast is good and Taissa Farmiga shows off the same skills she does in American Horror Story, where she manages to seem incredibly ordinary and yet rather unnerving at the same time. Mark Strong also shows why he’s such a good actor, holding things together while still managing to seem damaged. If they’s had a little more to work with, this could have been excellent.
Overall Verdict: If this was the pilot for a TV show, I’d certainly want to see more. But as a movie in its own right, it’s okay but doesn’t quite do enough with its premise to be really great.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac