“Anne +,” titled “Anne+ : the Film” on Netflix, is a Dutch journey of queer self-discovery that travels the vast distance between point A and point B.
Yes, that’s sarcasm.
It’s another light dip into a gay culture, this one in enlightened, liberal Amsterdam.
We meet a somewhat aimless 20something lesbian who struggles with a long distance relationship, a rambling, unfocused novel that she somehow got a book deal for despite needing a writing coach — assigned by the publisher — to write it, and mastering the whole new pronoun thing in the shifting sands of on-the-spectrum sexuality.
Well, that’s kind of comforting. It’s not just straight people who have trouble keeping pronouns um, straight.
Did Anne (co-writer Hanna van Vliet of “Quicksand”) get her book deal because the publisher thought she was cute? Maybe. Is she unsure about moving to Montreal with her lover, Sara (Jouman Fattal)? Maybe. Is she rattled and turned-on by the seriously boyishly butch drag performer Lou (Thorn Roos de Vries)? Maybe. Did she ever come out to her Dad? Maybe.
The most universally relatable thing about “Anne+” is the confusion and panic over the direction many of us haven’t figured out we want our lives to take in our 20s. That’s Anne in a nutshell.
She has her community, a close circle of friends, a nice house that she and Sara got even though Anne has no visible means of support. Was it her book advance?
And she has questions — about herself, herself and Sara, about Montreal.
The most interesting sequence in this Valerie Bisscheroux film is Anne’s dabbling in the world of drag, shown here as evolving into something more sexuality-spectrum fluid, and yet still fun. Anne doesn’t wear makeup — until she’s dolled up like a girlish man.
“Drag is about reclaiming your space,” Lou coaches one and all in Dutch with subtitles, or dubbed into English. “You’re always being looked at….Turn it into a positive!”
But even that part of “Anne +” feels a tad overfamiliar. This isn’t a movie about coming out or finding one’s tribe, place in the world, career or calling. Anne’s confusion may be more basic, something suggested by the first time she has sex with Lou. If a male-impersonator with a strap-on rocks your world, maybe you have bigger questions to consider.
Her book is to be about “gender identity,” “being queer” and “relationships.” Whoa. Stop the presses…in 1979.
Even the requisite nudity/sex scenes contrasted with “walking the canals, pondering” sequences seem something of a cliche.
And anyone with any experience of gay lifestyles or queer cinema could decorate Anne & Sara’s house — drawings and paintings of female nudes and disembodied genitalia. Gosh, who hasn’t been to a party there?
“Anne+” isn’t unpleasant to sit through. A couple of sequences — the “big argument” and “the talk” with Dad (Hein van der Heijden) stand out. His “Is this a ‘tea’ talk or a ‘whisky’ talk?” may be the truest, most heartening line in it.
But as queer “finding oneself” dramas go, it’s routine, recycled and as even the Dutch must admit, “algemeen,” “generic and undemanding.
Rating: TV-MA, nudity, explicit sex
Cast: Hanna van Vliet, Jouman Fattal, Thorn Roos de Vries, Jade Olieberg
Credits: Directed by Valerie Bisscheroux, scripted by Maud Wiemeijer, Valerie Bisscheroux and Hanna van Vliet. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:35