Fanny, Annie & Danny
Filmmaker Chris Brown has been compared to director John Cassavetes for his ability to peel back the skin of his characters in a way that feels both disturbingly intimate and deeply real. In Brown's latest, finely-crafted feature, Fanny, Annie & Danny are three troubled adult siblings brought together by their horrific mother for the Christmas holiday. Like just about everything in Brown's work, what seems commonplace on the surface becomes riveting in the details. We first meet Fanny, an obsessive-compulsive who lives in a group home and works at a candy factory about to go bankrupt. Fanny brings this secret to the Christmas dinner, where she reconnects with her self-absorbed sister Annie and their too-perfect-to-trust brother Danny. Mother Edie hosts the party with an iron fist, insisting at an ever-increasing pitch that everyone have fun. Their Vietnam vet father may act like his emotions died with his friends on the battlefield, but director Brown continually lets his audience glimpse the last few pulses of compassion the broken man has for those around him. As with a tsunami building strength silently offshore, we sense the impending climax without knowing exactly when or where it will hit--or how hard.