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Anna and the King

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Anna and the King

Starring: Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat
Director: Andy Tenant
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 147 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Mano Maniam, Ling Bai, Kee Thuan Chye, Teoh Kah Yong, Randall Duk Kim, Kenneth Tsang

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1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

If you've been heard to mutter, "They don't make movies like they used to..." then this sentimental, spectacularly beautiful historical epic is for you. In this fourth film version of Margaret Landon's fanciful story of Anna Leonowens, the strong-willed, recently widowed schoolteacher who travels to Siam in 1862 with her young son (Tom Felton) to educate the King's 58 children in Western customs, Jodie Foster delivers a magnificent performance, combining intelligence with compassion, dignity with vulnerability. Equally impressive is Hong Kong action star Chow Yun-Fat as imposing King Mongkut, the proud monarch who is amazed when a stubborn, impertinent, English schoolmarm has the temerity to consider herself his equal. Anna has Victorian preconceptions of primitive Siam while the King, in turn, has his own disdainful preconceptions of Western civilization. Meanwhile, the ominous threat of an invasion by neighboring Burma, perhaps aided by the British, hangs over their obviously growing affection for one another in this exotic, extravagant, romantic pastiche. Director Andy Tennant (Ever After) and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Black Stallion), shooting in Malaysia, emphasize the lavish, breathtaking opulence and stately splendor, conceived by production designer Luciana Arrighi, perhaps to the extreme. That may be the result of the plodding, bland script by Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes which dulls the sharpness of the underlying culture clash of racial, political and sexual tensions, relying instead on a weak, simplistic subplot involving treason. Nevertheless, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Anna and the King is a sumptuous 9, proving that the traditional Hollywood formulas can still concoct gratifying entertainment.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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