Deragh Campbell is an award-winning Canadian actor and film-maker whose recent movie MS Slavic 7 I have to confess to finding weirdly inert and indulgent. She has a starring role in this movie, which is a confident, intimate microbudget feature shot almost entirely in searching closeup, directed by Campbell’s longtime collaborator Kazik Radwanski. It is a more approachable piece of work and Campbell’s performance is unsettlingly real.
She plays Anne, an unhappy young woman with a job in a children’s daycare centre and an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, whose life is turned upside down when she tastes the ecstatic thrill of skydiving. Anne gets on pretty badly with her grumpy, humourless colleagues – who may nevertheless have a point about her unprofessional, casual and derisive attitude – and argues with her mother. She meets a nice guy called Matt (Matt Johnson) at a co-worker’s wedding, though she may well be about to alienate him too. But all this is against the background of skydiving, which she took part in as part of the bachelorette party: the bride and all the maids-of-honour did it once, but Anne wants this amazing and passionate experience again and again. Could it be a miraculous therapy for her? Or is skydiving simply enlarging and intensifying her already troublesome and anarchic personality?
Maybe Anne was already a skydiver in her heart, already a daredevil risk-taker and trouble-maker, and experiencing the wild freedom of skydiving has opened her eyes to how to stupid and tiresome and banal most of the people she meets on the ground actually are. Maybe skydiving was a glorious liberation or maybe it has messed up her life for ever. Either way she has effectively got skydiving instead of diagnosis and treatment for her psychological condition, and who knows if it isn’t just as effective? An intriguing and drily comic film.
• Anne at 13,000ft is available from 29 September on Mubi.