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I spend way too much time at the theaters.
I'm a slave to the Hollywood Visionaries.  God help me.

ANNA AND THE KING

Directed by Andy Tennant
Screenplay by Steve Meerson & Peter Krikes
Based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens
Starring Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat
My advice: A big screen must see
Rating: out of

Of course I can't predict the winners, but I think I can fancy a guess at the nominees:

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Movie
Best Cinematography
Best Sound
Best Costuming

Yup, I thought it was that grand. Regardless of what a few male critics seems to be offering up, I found plenty of substance in this nonmusical version of Anna and the King.

It's 1862, and recently widowed Anna Leonowens (Foster) has arrived from her home in Bombay to tutor to the eldest child of King Mongkut of Siam (Chow Yun-Fat). Along with her she brings her son, Louis (Tom Felton) who will be educated with, amazingly, all fifty-eight of the King's children. Of course that's not nearly as many as kids as the Emperor of China has, the King solemnly advises her, but he's spent half his life in a monastery. He has some catching up to do.

Raised her entire life in the proper English Imperial style, Anna has difficulty adjusting with the customs of a land that worships their King as if he were a God. Although well spoken and charming, the King is an overbearing lout who falls through on his promise to house her outside of the castle and Anna confronts him at every opportunity.

This version of Anna offers not only romance and laughter but some heavy handed political intrigue as well. Burmese soldiers run rampant through the outer territories of Siam, leaving the wreckage of peasant families in their wake. It's this shadowy force that brings the pivotal scenes of the film firmly to life.

I found this film epic and romantic. The unrequited love of this strong man and equally strong woman plays well to the screen and, even if it hadn't, there is just so much visual eye candy you might not have even cared.

Foster is elegant and refined in her roll of Anna, playing this quiet yet strong woman with fiery intensity and Chow Yun-Fat is Oscar-quality splendid as the royal King. What a delight to see him play such a wondrous character without the benefit of firearms backing him up as is his usual fare.

This movie offers it all. In my opinion, Anna and the King is grand indeed.

 

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