Ana (2020)

It’s not usually a good sign when you release a trailer to your movie approximately a week before it’s released—and then you dump it out on VOD during the first week of January. But such is the case with Ana, a mismatched road trip movie following a failed used car salesman and a street-smart child teaming up to (1) get some money for the adult and (2) find someone willing to give a home to the child. Oh, and condemnation of corporate greed and fraud at the expense of the church plays a major role later on, which feels a little out of left field.

The film is set in post-disaster Puerto Rico, AKA current day. Rafa (Andy Garcia) is a car salesman who has been hit hard in recent months and owes some money to at least one dangerous man. The eponymous Ana (Dafne Keen) is an 11-year-old whose mother just got arrested, whose father is an absentee, and who lives across the street from Rafa’s business. She pops up one day, he decides it’s his job to get her someplace safe, and before you know it they’re hitting the road together, stopping at random places in hopes of making enough money for Rafa to pay back the bad man owes.

It’s as formulaic as you’d expect it to be given the premise and that almost all road trip movies follow the same formula. What separates it are its backdrop—we don’t get many movies set in Puerto Rico, after all – and a late-game addition of a greedy church. The former provides its own unique challenges and situations, which keep the film from feeling too similar to its contemporaries, while the latter feels like it comes a little out of nowhere but, again, is a welcome addition.

The two leads are fun enough, although they do eventually fall into a predictable routine of banter and actions. It is a road trip movie, after all, and 90% of them feel interchangeable. It’s about the journey, not the destination, with these. You pretty much know where it’s going to end up, but is it fun while you’re watching it? Are you enjoying these people solving their problems while getting to know each other? And with Ana, that answer is “somewhat.” It’s entertaining enough to get through its running time without boring us, and while it doesn’t do a whole lot beyond that, that’s enough to make it not a bad watch.

With its Puerto Rican setting, little bits of social and political commentary, and two strong leads, Ana manages to overcome many of the trappings of a road trip movie and not bore its audience before the credits roll. Given how similar so many of these projects feel, this is a victory in and of itself. It’s still predictable and falls into a routine midway through, although a late-game turn does freshen things up. If nothing else, it deserved more than a week-long promotional cycle and an early January dumping onto VOD.

Conclusion: Ana is a better-than-average road trip movie.

Recommendation: If you like road trip movies and want to see one with a different setting, Ana is worth watching.

  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10

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