Andrew Niccol presents his take on a slightly distant future Orwellian dystopia in Anon. The effect of which is quietly chilling as we slowly see his concepts lurking in dark alleyways. While Niccol leaves any direct predictions of his projected reality out of the film, the subject matter is almost too timely to brush off, if not pandering to the more “alarmist” crowd. As someone who watches trends in social-media and other online venues with great interest, Anon poses a question that should be asked by anyone who utilizes our modern online tools of convenience: How much personal information are we simply giving away to the public?
To quote Amanda Seyfried’s character in response to a similar question:
It’s not that I have something to hide; I have nothing I want you to see.
While the film is pertinent to our modern era, there is something to be desired of many of the stars’ performances. Many of the characters come across as though their points of view and personal agendas are more pertinent than that of the other characters’. While this might actually be part of the effect of essentially living in an interconnected social-media that also acts as an elaborate digital government nanny, the effect of the characters’ interactions comes across as preachy and disinterested in other parties. Again, that might be the intent. Regardless, it presents an off-putting air about the characters that tends to seep into the plot itself.
This is one of the few films in my recollection that uses a first-person perspective in an effective manner. Since the main technology is an implant that allows citizens to view the world and any desirable information as an augmented reality (AR) overlay to what is in their view, it makes sense that advertisements and memories would utilize the available technology. Where the effect is truly effective at world building is when an individual decides to ignore what is being projected to them and sees the environment as it actually is. For times when memories are being shared between characters, the perspective showcases vivid reminders that nothing an individual does is ever truly private.
Overall, this shows somewhat of a plateau in Niccol’s storytelling and film making. Many of the similar touchstones for his films are still there: apathetic characters, grim circumstances, and a balanced projection of what the future might hold. However, many of the perceived short-comings could be explained away by the world in which the film takes place. Considering the film clocks in at 100 minutes, it almost could have been mistaken for a one-off special of Black Mirror.