My Best Friend Anne Frank review: Grim story-telling with poor execution

Rating 2.5/5

‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ is based on the memoirs of the holocaust survivor, Hannah Goslar and accounts her friendship with Anne Frank.

Story

Adapted from the memoirs of Hannah Goslar, Anne Frank’s friend, ‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ tells the story of the two friends in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and their sorrowful reunion at the concentration camp.

Though being very different people wanting different things from life, Hannah and Anne are best friends. Hannah is a naive girl who becomes an unwilling participant in troublesome situations because of her mischief-making friend. Influenced by Florence Nightingale, she wishes to be a nurse while Anne dreams of travelling the world. They have ups and downs in their friendship but they have a pact that they will be together forever.

This difference becomes the reason why Hannah gets mad at Anne and rushes out of her house in anger. When she decides to make up with her friend, she gets the news that the Frank family migrated to Switzerland.

Hannah’s pregnant mother passes away due to the unavailability of doctors for Jews. Soon, Hannah, her father and her baby sister Gabbi, all are imprisoned in the concentration camp. She hopes to reunite with her best friend Anne Frank after hearing the news that she is also imprisoned at the adjoining camp. Hannah’s family is also given a chance at escape as their names are on a list of people to be discharged in exchange for a prisoner of war.

Performance

Josephine Arendsen as Hannah and Aiko Beemsterboer as Anne both do a good job in portraying their respective characters. Andersen does justice to her role and makes us endure a love-hate relationship with the character.

Beemsterboer, on the other hand, very competently makes for a naive and reserved Hannah who follows her friend Anne around.

Positives

The reunion of the two friends at the concentration camp is spine-tingling. There is tension as Hannah and Anne can be discovered by the Nazis anytime. There is a sense of relief that they finally found each other. It’s also emotionally charged as they discuss their dreams once again.

Though Anne dreams of travelling the world even as she is dying, Hannah changes her dream as she wishes to join her friend in her adventures. Even in the darkest of times they are there for one other and plan their futures together. Though they are being optimistic, they are also feeling impending doom.

The two different phases in Hannah’s life are in stark contrast to each other visually. While her times with Anne before being imprisoned has a pastel pallet, the scenes in the concentration camp are pretty grim and gritty, mostly exhibiting more dark and sombre shades of brown.

Negatives

Though the movie is based on a persons’ life, some of which are fond memories with her friend and others of the gut-wrenching holocaust, the film fails to move the viewers’ hearts and falls flat. According to the film, Anne just feels like a manipulative friend who just lingers around Hannah when she has something to gain from her. Their friendship comes off as toxic.

The film also fails to make an impact due to the constant shift in time periods. Rather than a comprehensive thought, it feels like a bunch of random memories; random memories are what the film is based on but it does not bind those memories into a cohesive whole.

‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ is a rather slow watch, especially in the first few scenes which seem redundant and boring. It only picks up in the last 30 minutes as the film finally begins to make sense.

Verdict

‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ is a particularly dull account of significant historical events with quite a few miss-steps along the way. It struggles to really capture the harrowing nature of the time period and leaves the viewer unfulfilled by the end.


Also Read: My Best Friend Anne Frank summary and ending explained