Mikey Madison Gives A Perfect Performance In Sean Baker’s Hilarious Dramedy


  • Mikey Madison’s performance is exceptional.
  • Sean Baker’s storytelling in Anora is sincere and judgment-free.
  • The script can be far-fetched, but it doesn’t change how wonderfully told the story is.

Sean Baker is the type of filmmaker who knows what it takes to make films about difficult human experiences with genuineness and without judgment. In The Florida Project, he demonstrated the hardships faced by a single mother raising a young girl from a motel. With Tangerine, heartbreak from a sex worker’s perspective was at the forefront. For the 77th Cannes Film Festival, Baker returned with a story about the rise and fall of an exotic dancer’s American dream. Anora is an unrealistic, yet lovable rags-to-riches story that is bursting with chaos, hilarity, raunchiness, and a stupendous performance from Mikey Madison.

Anora’s life takes a dramatic twist when she impulsively marries the son of a Russian oligarch, catapulting her from the streets of Brooklyn to a world of opulence and scrutiny.


  • Anora features a stunning, career-defining performance from Mikey Madison.
  • Sean Baker’s storytelling is sincere and judgment-free.
  • Mark Eydelshteyn handles the bad boy persona with style and credibility.
  • The film is a wild ride from start to finish.

  • The script lacks some believability.

Ani (Madison) works at an exotic dance club in New York City. With her bubbly personality, quick wits, and sexy dance moves, she reels in the clients quite easily. One evening, Ani meets Ivan (Mark Eydelshteyn), a rich Russian kid who wastes his life on partying, drugs, and video-gaming. The two immediately bond given that they both speak Russian, although Ani adorably fumbles the language. And after private sessions, Ivan decides that he wants Ani all to himself.

Baker’s drama is a modern take on Gary Marshall’s Pretty Woman, except with more madness, sex appeal, and hilarity than you could ever imagine. From exploring the world of exotic dancing to its evolution into a boisterous love story, Anora is a delight. When Ani and Ivan become an item, Baker uses their relationship to explore the American Dream in a way that we’ve never seen before. Ani’s world with Ivan is centered on sex, drugs, and money – things she quickly adapts to. When Ivan proposes, it’s all too easy for Ani to say yes.

Anora is a lovable tale of rags to riches that comes exploding with chaos, hilarity, raunchiness, and a stupendous performance from Mikey Madison.

From here, Baker lets us have some fun with Ani’s rags-to-riches love story. There’s romance (at least what Ivan perceives as such), a genuine connection between two souls built on passion and lust, and a world of entertainment galore. If Pretty Woman is a romantic adventure of people celebrating their authentic passion for each other, Anora is that times 100. Baker’s storytelling showcases Ani and Ivan’s new lifestyle — which is full of rowdiness, impossible circumstances, and devilishly sweet charm. I couldn’t help but cheer them on in their new bliss.

Anora’s Cast Lets Loose To Deliver Laugh-Out-Loud Moments

As in true Baker form, happiness for Ani was never going to be the end goal. With Baker’s authentic storytelling about human experiences, there’s bound to be drama that brings his characters back to reality. The acclaimed director not only takes it up a notch, but he goes full throttle with the messiness of Ani and Ivan’s relationship. As a result, Anora evolves from an unlikely romantic drama to a full-on chaotic quest that is sure to keep you laughing from the gut.

The film works for several reasons. Despite being an unrealistic story, Baker leans into it to ensure the end result is one where we can fully let loose with and enjoy. But this isn’t just a story about drugs, sex, and money. Baker is clear about Ani’s desires. After being raised in a broken home with no one to show her true unconditional love, Ani gravitates to vices to fill the void. But Baker assures us that identifying and holding onto this type of love isn’t easy. If it does come easy, it’s usually accompanied by shady promises and heartbreak.

Mikey Madison’s Star Power Elevates Anora’s Chaotic Script

Madison is brilliant in the lead role

Given the roller coaster nature of the script, Anora’s most important objective is to entertain while providing insight into the mind of a broken young woman. To that end, it would not have been possible without an exemplary performance by Mikey Madison. She demonstrates a fiery spirit while showcasing a sweet-natured and charming personality we can’t help but love. If there was ever a time to roll out the red carpet and put an actress on the map, this is it. Madison is a star. It also helps that the supporting cast delivers at every moment, too.

An exploration of an exotic dancer’s psyche, Anora’s take on the American Dream comes with wild levels of humor, chaos, and sexiness. Baker’s latest isn’t just an entertaining body of work, it’s an important one that aligns with the filmmaker’s passion for showing human experiences on screen without judgment. While the script often ventures into the far-fetched, it’s a welcome addition that provides the entertainment that films like this so desperately need. And thanks to Madison’s perfect performance, Anora is sure to be the talk of the festival circuit leading into awards season and the 2025 Oscars.

Anora premiered at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

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