How does it feel to be middle-aged? If the question triggers a pang of regret, you are on the same emotional wavelength as Anna (Kathryn Worth). She’s a 45-year-old married woman who’s traveled to the Tuscan countryside on vacation. She has arrived, sans husband, and something essential is clearly amiss. The specifics of what vexes her are meted out by British director Joanna Hogg with such deliberate restraint that a viewer in search of “normal” narrative sustenance may go hungry. (This is a significant part of the film’s style.) Anna, in fact, is taking a much-needed time-out from a faltering relationship. Through a succession of the typical non-events of bourgeois holidaymaking—drinking and eating and smoking too much while remaining oblivious to gorgeous surroundings—Anna eventually comes undone. And then life goes on.
Hogg works primarily with hypnotic, locked-down, wide-open compositions that seem, at times, to swallow up the people that inhabit them. This has the effect of alienating the viewer from events in much the same way Anna perceives her own marginality. Indeed, what seems to linger most is a painful awareness that Anna didn’t have to be there in the first place. The next time someone bemoans the fact that “there are no adult movies anymore,” figure out a way to put this in front of them.