Anna and the King

Critics Consensus

Beautiful cinematography can't prevent Anna and the King from being boring and overly lengthy.



Total Count: 100


Audience Score

User Ratings: 75,152
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Movie Info

The true story of Anna Leonowens' experiences as a governess to the children of an eccentric Asian king has been adapted into a book of memoirs, a biography, a stage play called Anna and the King of Siam -- which was adapted into a 1946 film, a stage musical called The King and I -- made into both the live-action The King and I (1956)) and the animated The King and I (1999) feature films, and a short-lived 1972 TV series. Now the story is brought to the screen yet again, as Jodie Foster stars as Leonowens, hired by the king of Thailand (Chow Yun-Fat) in the 19th century to help care for his children. The king wants the best for his children, but Anna soon discovers that he is a strong-willed but quixotic leader, and her stay in Thailand becomes a struggle for power with romantic overtones, as they decide who will have authority over the royal youngsters. Anna and the King was directed by Andy Tennant, best known for his 1998 variation on the Cinderella story, Ever After. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Jodie Foster
as Anna Leonowens
Yun-Fat Chow
as King Mongkut
Bai Ling
as Tuptim
Syed Alwi
as The Kralahome
Randall Duk Kim
as General Alak
Kay Siu Lim
as Prince Chowfa
Melissa Campbell
as Princess Fa-Ying
Keith Chin
as Prince Chulalongkorn
Mano Maniam
as Moonshee
Deanna Yusoff
as Lady Thiang
Geoffrey Palmer
as Lord John Bradley
Anne Firbank
as Lady Bradley
Bill Stewart
as Mycroft Kincaid
Sean Ghazi
as Khun Phra Balat
Afdlin Shauki
as Interpreter
Neo Swee-lin
as Lady Jao Jom Manda Ung
Ramli Hassan
as King Chulalongkorn
Robert Hands
as Captain Blake
Lim Yu-Beng
as Scarfaced Leader
Kenneth Tsang
as Justice Phya Phrom
Kee Thuan Chye
as Second Judge
Patrick Teoh
as Third Judge
Aimi Aziz
as Lady of Court No. 1
Ellie Suriatry Omar
as Lady of Court No. 2
Tina Lee Siew Ting
as Lady of Court No. 3
Wong Chiu Ling
as Lady of Court No. 4
Zaridah Abdul Malik
as Lady of Court No. 5
Ahmad Mazlan
as Scout No. 1
Mohd Razib Saliman
as Scout No. 2
as Siamese Trader
Pak Ling
as Shipping Dock Woman
Zulhaila Siregar
as Distraught Villager
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Critic Reviews for Anna and the King

All Critics (100) | Top Critics (29)

Audience Reviews for Anna and the King

  • Jul 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Matthew S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 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 <i>The English Patient</i> 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2011
    Yun-Fat Chow is truly imperious in his portrayal of the King seeking Western enlightenment yet torn between old customs and superstitions on one side and modern scientific knowledge on the other. Jodie Foster, sporting an English accent that she never feels utterly comfortable with, does an admirable job of the fiendishly difficult Anna, a British schoolteacher who is sent to the Kingdom of Siam to teach the King's children English. It is interesting to see that King Mongkut and Anna have much in common, both being stubborn and headstrong. This is precisely why they develop a quiet respect and attraction towards each other as the story unfolds itself, individuals from two different worlds caught up a love that can never be. The cinematography is superb, with great detail in the scenery (especially the palace) and the period costumes. <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a> <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic"></a>
    Deb S Super Reviewer

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