The story is extremely simple. Anna is a lonely, divorced woman who works in a hospital and is also writing a thesis. She decides to take a holiday on a small island in the far northern archipelago of Finland, and takes along her daughter and a young girl who acts as secretary-nursemaid. Next door lives a hard-drinking former politician, whose son quickly starts an affair with the girl. Anna cannot help but watch the young people, and their love play only disquiets her. For, approaching forty, Anna is troubled with failing eyesight, a diminishing need for sex, and a lover who wants her as a wife rather than as an equal partner.
Anna marks a change of pace as far as Jörn Donner's Finnish films are concerned and in some ways, a return to the kind of film he was making in Sweden. The presence of Harriet Andersson (who played in all four Swedish films) does not alone account for this; Donner's first three Finnish films (in all of which he played the lead) were all light, entertaining, relaxing works.
Anna is different… here the drama is mostly internal.