Anna and the King - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Anna and the King Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 28, 2011
The plot wasn't focused enough, trying to fit in too many themes and coming up short and shallow on every one. Wonderful cinematography though, with beautiful locations.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2011
The king of Siam employs a British woman to teach his more than fifty children.
This is lush costume drama, full of all the pomp and circumstance and majestic panning shots that you would expect. Occasionally the cinematography actually reminded me of The English Patient which is no small compliment. And Jodie Foster is a premier actress, especially when it comes to playing vulnerability and her character's attempts at overcoming vulnerability. She has that pout and fearful but determined look in her eye on full display in many of her scenes.
However, I think the film is quite muddled and uneven. First, there is a great deal of talk about colonization. After all, one of the principal conflicts in the film is internal to the king's educative mission: how does he push for modernization when the definition of modernity is to be like his oppressors? How does he resolve the contradiction of tradition and modernity? These are compelling questions, both academically and cinematically. But they are not adequately explored. For example, Anna travels with two Indian servants, and their objections to colonization's evils are restricted to a single look they share during the first ten minutes of the film. What is more, the king has few scenes taking this conflict on head-on, and the one character who does is later villainized.
Second, the film is uneven because there are several dramatic, heart-tugging scenes that are immediately followed by sprawling shots of beautiful scenery or teaching sequences in which everybody is smiling and laughing as though nothing of consequence happened just five seconds ago.
Overall, despite Foster's classic performance -- the type that has made her famous -- there are still too many structural flaws to ignore.
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2008
Such a beautiful story. Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat play their roles perfectly. I loved it.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2007
I knew the basic story from the Yul Brenner version of the King and I, but this is well done. The scene on the bridge is a bit of a stretch. But I liked the movie's humour and the lessons it teaches. The ending is appropriate as well.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2007
Execelletn modern adaptation of the King and I. I love the costumes and the kids.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2007
jodie foster being feminine. not something you see everyday.
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2007
This wonderful epic dramatisation of the love story that had everyone humming in The King & I. This film stands up as a fine culture clash romance.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2007
Visually sumptuous adaptation of the novel the musical The King And I was based upon. The comparison is inevitable, and rather interesting, but in the end it is Chow Yun Fat's star presence that carries the film as Foster (as usual) lacks charisma.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2006
It was okay.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2014
"The Sound of Music" in Siam! I went into this film concerned enough about Jodie Foster's English accent going over about as well as her southern accent (Forget the lambs; she probably should have kept a little more silent), so I'm glad that I don't have to worry about her singing Rodgers and Hammerstein style. Oh yeah, I'm sure some English woman teaching the wives and kids of the king of a pre-Thailand is interesting enough on its own, without sweeping Rodgers and Hammerstein musical numbers. It might be, if King Mongkut's polygamy didn't reduce the juice in his scandalous feelings for yet another chick, and if, I don't know, this film was animated. Man, even the other "Anna and the King of Siam" adaptation which came out this year got some serious heat, so 1999 wasn't the best year for that property, you know, to people outside of me. Hey, I like long movies, and if you don't have the patience for all of the thoughtfulness... anachronisms and scenes that were supposedly offensive to Mongkut enough to get the film banned from Thailand, then, yeah, go watch a Warner Bros. cartoon. I don't really know how sophisticated you can make a romance film by the guy who went on to do "Sweet Home Alabama", "Hitch", "Fool's Gold" and "The Bounty Hunter", but it would appear as though there was a time when Andy Tennant tried, and while that pays off enough to make this film better than many say, it seems that he was always one to conform.

Andy Tennant has always been known for being nothing if not formulaic with his romantic flicks, and as compelling as this film is, it's not above Tennant's typical tastes and Steve Meerson's and Peter Krikes' scripted conventions, which leave the film hitting many a trope that it perhaps could have transcended, maybe if it didn't wander so deeply into a familiar path. As something of a fan of lengthy cinema, I feel that the two-and-a-half-hour runtime in instrumental in allowing this drama to flesh itself out as compelling, but, boy, it sure takes its time to do so, dragging along under the overwhelming weight of filler, if not material so excessive that unevenness sets in and shakes focus. I firmly dispute the accusations that this film is boring, because this is a very entertaining drama, although it is nonetheless aimless, taking way too long to tell a tale which would better sustain one's investment if there was more dramatic substance to justify so much extensive exposition. There are a number of grand conflicts, and few, if any major conflicts are ever less than compelling, and yet, there's still something dramatically lacking about this epic, which thrives about as much on fluff as anything, and ultimately has only so much to say. Still, whatever the film has to say, it says with more ambition than it probably should have, because, considering that this is Andy Tennant's adaptation of "Anna and the King of Siam" we're talking about, histrionics are about as predictable as predictability, all but plaguing storytelling with rather cheesily manufactured-feeling happenings and sentimental direction. The more Tennant tries to immerse you into the heart of this melodrama, the more he stresses the shortcomings, of which there are not enough to overshadow the rewarding strengths, but still enough to hold the final product back a draggy and lacking. Still, the fact of the matter is that the final product compels enough to reward the patient who can embrace inspiration through ambition, even in the aesthetic touches.

Speaking of conventions, George Fenton's and Robert Kraft's score is almost, if you will, pathetically formulaic in its fusion of Southeast Asian and western world sensibilities in a sentimental manner that is disconcerting enough in its augmenting a sense of melodramatics, and yet, with all of that said, the soundtrack remains lovely and complimentary to entertainment value, as surely as cinematographer Caleb Deschanel's trademark subtle lighting compliments the beauty of the film's visuals. Having assembled a hefty art direction team comprised of Tom Nursey, John Ralph, Marc Fisichella, Paul Ghirardani and Lek Chaiyan Chunsuttiwat, this film has at least earned universal acclaim for its production value, which is just, as the art directors manage to restore mid-19th century Siam, in all of its distinguished beauty, convincingly and lavishly, in order to liven things up with handsome visual after handsome visual, while immersing you into the grand setting of a pseudo-epic narrative. The story of Anna Leonowens' experience during and influence on major happenings in the royal house of Siam has been adapted in all sorts of ways, and this loose interpretation continues to explore the dramatic and thematic possibilities of this subject matter, being ultimately too formulaic, overdrawn and histrionic for you to disregard natural dramatic shortcomings, yet not so flawed that you can disregard the rather rich dynamicity and intimacy of this almost epic period drama. In fact, Peter Krikes and Steve Meerson play a respectable role in meeting a degree of the dramatic potential, for although their script is excessive in a number of ways, particularly with structuring, it carries its share of tight moments which really do flesh out a great deal of depth to this intimate narrative, partly through rich characterization that is made all the richer by across-the-board effective performances, the most charismatic of which being by Chow Yung-Fat and Jodie Foster. The leads may be seriously lacking in chemistry, but both charm by their own right, with certain dramatic layers on which the resonant highlights of this film thrive, about as much as they thrives on highlights in Andy Tennant's own dramatic performance. Sentimentality plagues Tennant's storytelling throughout the film and thins dramatic genuineness which could have carries the final product a long, long way, despite its natural shortcomings, and yet, with this prelude to a career filled with misfires, Tennant unveils potential as a storyteller, keeping the lighter aspects charming and adequately well-paced, and making sure that they flow into heavier moments organically enough for resonance to all but pierce. At the very least, Tennant keeps entertainment value consistent, because no matter how much the film drags its feet, there is enough color to get you by in between the dramatic heights which secure the final product as a fairly rewarding watch.

When the lesson is wrapped, formulaic and aimlessly overdrawn storytelling shines a light on dramatic limitations about as much as dramatic overambitions, whose overt sentimentality threatens genuine engagement value that is secured firmly enough by lovely, if generic scoring and cinematography, outstanding art direction, well-rounded writing, compelling performances, and entertaining, when not effective direction in order to secure Andy Tennant's "Anna and the King" as a plenty engaging and ultimately, to the patient, rewarding take on Anna Leonowens' time in Siam.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
February 14, 2008
It is was okay, but I enjoyed "The King and I" much more so. Fox never should have advertised this movie as "a true story," when in fact it is mostly fiction with little fact. It follows Anna Leon Owens diaries well, but her diaries are sprinkled with fantasy. "Anna and the King" insulted the Thai people so much that it was banned from Thailand.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2007
This wonderful epic dramatisation of the love story that had everyone humming in The King & I. My favorite part oddly enough was when they kill that woman who becomes a monk and her lover.
Super Reviewer
May 15, 2010
A great story about a widow who moves to Siam with her son to work as a teacher for the king's children. She brings a whole new culture to the Siamese people and she isn't afraid of telling them her opinion on various things. Fantastic acting skills by Chow Yun-Fat & Jodie Foster.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2007
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
It was okay, but I prefer the musical version
Super Reviewer
½ September 1, 2007
Don't know exactly why it's entertaining but it is. Jodie Foster is quite charming.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2006
I found this strangely moving. I don't usually like Jodie Foster as she's too cold, but here it works. Chow Yun Fat is no replacement for Yul Brynner, but I'm glad of the lack of songs. Watch out for her son as he goes on to play Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter, he's absolutely brilliant in this film.
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2008
Visually, this movie was a treat to the eyes. The script was very good as well. But it was the awesome performances and chemistry between Jodi Foster and Chow Yun Fat that truly garnered this film it's success.
June 26, 2008
I liked it, but it was too long and needed more editing. I don't think Jodie Foster was right for her role, she always looked worried and upset. I think she should've been more strong and defiant and also she seemed like she was holding back. Chow was pretty good. I liked the plot, but they could've done without some subplots and instead been more in depth. For instance, I didn't really know who that child was that died. The script was the best part like when the king told that sun poem and when they talked about the cultural differences. There should've been a love scene and more chemistry between the main duo. I really liked the visuals, costumes, and cinematography. The accents were pretty bad.
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