Home » Anima review – Paul Thomas Anderson’s Bewitching Suspiria-Like Symphony

Anima review – Paul Thomas Anderson’s Bewitching Suspiria-Like Symphony

by Ben Rolph

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest project came in a surprise announcement from Netflix last week, it screens in select IMAX cinemas and will be available on Netflix later this week. The film is a “one-reeler” defined as a film shot entirely on one-reel of film. The Netflix film release parallels to Thom Yorke’s new album release, of which three of the songs are featured.

Coming off of scoring Suspiria last year, Yorke has garnered much respect from the film community and it evidently influenced the production of ‘Anima’. A Suspiria-like one-reeler that is a symphony of song and dance, the dance reminds of Luca Guadagnino’s demonically-twisted ‘volk’ in many ways. Like Suspiria, the beauty of which the dance is portrayed is intoxicating and haunting.


The film stars and is scored by Thom Yorke (Suspiria) and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread, Inherent Vice). Additionally, the cinematographer is Darius Khondji (Lost City of Z, Midnight in Paris). Thom Yorke’s solo album of the same name will be released at the same time, with nine-tracks (ten on vinyl).

Anima has all the perfect ingredients, Yorke’s haunting lyrical music combined with Anderson’s unique touch creates a musical film that enchants. There is a witch-like quality to the choreography, of which Khondji’s cinematography seamlessly parallels and creates a sensation of hypnotism. Anderson’s direction reminds of the aesthetic qualities seen in silent cinema, specifically the German Expressionists. The use of shadow harks a similar feel to Fritz Lang’s ‘M’ and F.W. Murnau’s ‘Nosferatu’. It is experimental and expressionistic, bending the mind to places cinema has not touched, whilst treading upon techniques of the past.


There is a flowing energy to Anima. Visually and audibly, the beating of the drums to the choreographed head and body-twists convey a feeling of uncanny. It is a sensual experience unlike anything else, set in a dream-like world following two characters through a melody of dance. Thom Yorke stars, pulling off the necessary choreography and facial expressions to attach you in this zombie-like reality. Referring to silent cinema again, the facial emotions seen are vital, as no words are uttered – this highlights the visionary control of director Paul Thomas Anderson.

Anima is a short “one-reeler” musical film that bewitches with a Suspiria-inspired melody of song and dance. Paul Thomas Anderson directs a vision of haunting-matter that contains all the pitch-perfect ingredients, including Thom Yorke’s fear-evoking songs and Anderson’s own touch.

5/5 Stars ★★★★★

Ben Rolph

‘ANIMA’ IS HAVING A PUBLIC FREE SCREENING at Cineworld Leicester Square TONIGHT at 7:40pm, tickets are available on a first come, first served basis: https://bit.ly/2FzSMhK




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