Anna And The King
Based on the true-life experiences of British teacher Anna Leonowens, this courageous and liberated widow is brought to Siam in the 19th century to educate the ruler’s children in the ways of English life. It is a turbulent time for the small country, and the king is torn between the customs of the past and a desire to enlighten his people in the ways of the world. A tremendous help and also a frustrating nuisance, Anna forms a unique friendship with His Highness.
At last, a Hollywood production of a great romance, wonderfully acted and beautifully executed – with nary a swear word in the entire production. It is splendidly photographed, with director Tennant using color and movement much like Akira Kurosawa. Chow Yun-Fat has stepped into, or should I say, out of the shoes of some prestigious predecessors – Rex Harrison and Yul Brenner – but he is every bit the king. It is a solid, confident performance. Except for a contrived solution to a threatening revolt, the story is textured, revealing a compelling subplot about a love affair between one of the king’s wives and a peasant turned Buddhist priest. Indeed, the film has two great love stories. Although Ms. Foster stands to garner an Oscar nomination, one might have preferred Emma Thompson or some other English actress in the role of Anna. I just wish Deborah Kerr could have played the part…Oh, yeah.