20 Jul 2022
Lukas Hinch, Karenina Angelique, Parvinder Shergill
A solitary car journey turns into an overwhelming and unprecedented experience. We watch a man’s solo journey to better himself – but there is more to the story than meets the eye. Written and directed by Alasdair Mackay, Anonymous is an in-depth drama which considers the strength that it takes to give up the demons that come with addiction. Set in real time, this feature film is brooding and quiet at first, but goes on to tackle some hard-hitting events that change the course of a group of people’s entire night.
The film feels like a play in that it takes place over the course of one evening and we get up-close-and-personal testimonies from each character. We get a solitary start as we follow an unnamed man on his journey of self-reflection. Unassuming, we see his emotions, but we do not necessarily understand them right away. In the beginning, the focus is on his eyes in the rear-view mirror of his car as he slowly drives himself to his first ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ meeting, with minimal score to focus on his quiet and pensive breathing. It is a solitary start – The Man does not say anything throughout, but he observes and hears everything and gets insight that others do not.
The village hall scene of Alcoholics Anonymous is thoughtfully filmed so as to intently capture Alcoholics Anonymous: a warmly lit space, where a group of very different people from all walks of life come together in a circle to heal and self-reflect. Mackay ensures to maximise use of long takes for the feeling of tension and vulnerability to preside over the scene. It feels real. In sharing their experiences and strengths, these are successful, well-rounded people sharing their deepest secrets. Dialogue feels incredibly real, instead of contrived, and realistic UK-based personalities shine through and provide this film with incredible flair. All the while through each emotional testimony, The Man watches on as if trying to assess if he feels comfortable enough to share himself.
A group of strangers sharing and offloading deeply personal thoughts, triggering events and challenging life events is raw. We witness a very difficult side to people in their self-reflection, self-loathing and self-judgement. These individuals are powerful for surviving them and empowered by sharing them. Questions of faith, power and control are brilliantly handled and executed, above all else showing that healing is not always easy. In fact, it is very difficult at the start of the process and particularly with regards to how it affects loved ones too.
Alasdair Mackay has created a really fluid and well-constructed story arc despite having to negotiate multiple character testimonies. To place the focus on the process of recovery instead of addition was a heartfelt move, as he explores how the group seek to help each other understand why they fall. Anonymous is ultimately an emotional watch but crafted beautifully.