review for Anne B. Real on AllMovie

Anne B. Real (2002)
by Josh Ralske review

Lisa France's debut feature, Anne B. Real, is a well-meaning drama with an original premise that still gets bogged down in formulaic plotting, uneven performances, and drab visuals. Making her acting debut, Ja Nice Richardson does a fine job in the lead role of Cynthia. She and Jackie Quinones, who plays Cynthia's wisecracking best friend, Kitty, bring a fresh-faced enthusiasm to their performances that transcends the rather predictable character arcs. Other performers, including Carlos Leon in the pivotal role of Cynthia's drug-addled brother Juan, do not fare as well. Leon tries hard, but it's a character we've seen on too many television police dramas and low-budget drug sagas, and while Juan serves a crucial function in the plot, he's never quite convincing as a fully-fleshed human being. Anne B. Real has been compared to 8 Mile. This film, however, has a more likable protagonist, unlike the monotonously sullen character played by Eminem. Cynthia seems to have passion and a lively mind even when she's not on-stage, where she's understandably not quite as convincing in her freestyle skills. The film's connection to the classic WWII memoir The Diary of Anne Frank is too tenuous to suggest the awkward title, though perhaps the filmmakers were simply thinking that the reference would broaden their film's demographic appeal.