“If you ever find me particularly attractive in a memory …it’s probably because I made that up too”
There’s this saying “A penny for your thoughts”. And sometimes it’s better not to know what someone’s thoughts are. John Washington (Mark Strong) experienced that firsthand. John is a “Memory detective”, working for Mindscape Company, and has the ability to penetrate into the memory of people in order to figure out what’s going on in the psyche. This procedure is sometimes used in court cases to determine whether the accused is indeed the culprit. It’s still not totally valid but the technique is preferred to be used instead of a lie detector test. But John himself is also a tormented spirit and during a session he got confronted with his own memory of his deceased wife and he got a mild heart attack. He’s mentally unable to perform his work as “Memory detective” and he goes on a well-deserved rest. The lack of money becomes a problem and he’s forced to return to his boss Sebastian (Brian Cox) who gives him a seemingly simple case in which a teenage girl refuses to eat. John needs to find out whether she is a brilliant sociopath or a traumatized teenager.
The movie “Mindscape” (also known as “Anna”) balances between the classic detective and the modern science fiction genre. Immediately “Inception” comes into your mind as a comparison. And despite “Mindscape” using the principle of dream layers (but here it’s applied to memories), it doesn’t feel like a real SciFi. It’s rather the unraveling of a complicated puzzle. I think the film is more like “Extracted” although the latter was a major disappointment when it’s about the level of tension. Although John has the ability to explore someone’s brain cells, it seemed he himself had a shortage of those. I was surprised that he was a notorious “Memory detective”, because although the clues were so crystal clear (the signature for example), he didn’t seem to notice them. Did he need huge fluorescent arrows to point it out for him ? And apparently the writers thought that the audience watching this movie stood at the end of the line during the dispensation of brains, because there were really huge whoppers of errors and improbabilities in the end.
But despite the disappointing end and the illogical conclusion, it was an exciting and dark film. While John digs deeper into the memories of Anna, he becomes more and more embroiled in an ingenious spun web of misleading events and mysterious developments. The story reveals the different pieces painfully slow. Mark Strong has that look that perfectly suits the person John Washington : confident and focused, smart enough to make the right associations (but yet not smart enough to interpret the obvious clues correctly. Too evident probably.) . And yet he looks like a fragile and vulnerable person who exudes a kind of melancholy and gloom. This will probably be a typical trait of Strong, cause he also looked like that in “Welcome to the Punch”.
Taissa Farmiga, the intelligent Anna who balances between trauma and violence, was an undeniably perfect choice for this role. For me, a rising star of the same level as Saoirse Ronan: an innocent look with a certain sensuality and yet frighteningly dangerous. She looked familiar to me and afterwards I read she played Sarah in “Jamesy Boy”. The conversations between John and Anna were pleasant to hear and sometimes put together in a very clever way, with John trying to uncover the truth, while Anna quirky parries these attempts by using her intellect. It’s a pitty that the intellect of reasoning and conversing wasn’t used in the overall storyline. Because despite a slasher-like start that turned into a psychological thriller, was the ending still pretty disappointing. The rendition by Farmiga was impressive. The storyline however will only be a memory after a while ….