…and the quest to see everything

Hanna and other beautiful freaks

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) converses with her father Erik Keller (Eric Bana) in Teutonic accents and commits to combat training from him in the forests somewhere in the immediate south of the Arctic. Telling her father that she’s ‘ready,’ and tiring of the isolation that Erik has inadvertently put her, she flicks a switch that emits a signal so her hunter, agent Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett), can ‘find her.’ He flees, she gets captured, she escapes and finds herself on a rocky desert and meets a British faux chavette her age named Sophie (Jessica Barden), who suddenly prattles on about God knows what.

I highlight this part of Hanna’s journey just to say that I love Jessica Barden, who seems like a cherub in the trailer but she plays a  precocious character as she did in Tamara Drewe. And she almost steals the show from Ronan, as she talks about MIA and other topics in breakneck speed, without caring if Hanna can understand her. She’s the comic relief with her bodily non sequiturs. But when it comes down to it, watching the latter kill full-grown men, she stands paralyzed, teary-eyed, knowing that she cannot copy what her new-found friend is doing in front of her.

Both girls are worldly in their own way, Hanna through the encyclopedias and languages that her father teaches her, Sophie by actually visiting [laces and immersing herself through the culture. One complements the other. What, then, does the film say about teenage girls’ relationships with each other and the overwhelming possibilities of the outside world? Or the independent, free-love parenting that Sophie’s mother (Olivia Williams) tries as an experiment towards her daughter, who probably isn’t turning out to be what the former exactly wanted? Or the dangers of the outside world that they have to face?

But it doesn’t need to think about those things while it’s offering to show us parts of the world. Hanna breaks a Fake Marissa’s neck and takes out armed guards, escaping a CIA prison facility. She beats up guys on a pier while loaders are driving around her. CIA operatives surround Erik in a Berlin U-Bahn – he kills them all, the audience applauds. Hanna combines snowy forests, Northern African country and city, Germany’s inner-city and abandoned amusement parks. But director Joe Wright, a trickster with his long takes and spinning cameras, doesn’t shoot those locales and the actors filling them with any slow-paced art film pretension. There’s wilfulness in making’ this mainstream action film, these locations thus making the movie more real.

That doesn’t mean that the film is just 110-something minutes of limbs hitting bodies, as it shows the character’s pain and its psychological effect as the outside world, intentionally or otherwise, attacks. Hanna ironically becomes overwhelmed by the stimuli of household appliances of a cheap, Moroccan hotel. Marissa uses one of her electric toothbrushes until her teeth bleed.

Marisa hires an assassin (Tom Hollander) to find her, but when that doesn’t work, these fractured women – Marissa can also be seen as Hanna’s other mirror/double – eventually meet and know that their survival depends on ensuring the other’s death. 4/5

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One response

  1. This is probably the best review of Hanna
    I read on the net until now;
    you caught something in the movie
    that many other viewers/writers probably didn’t even strain to see
    (particularly appreciated the “Or the independent, free-love parenting…” paragraph).

    Though I loved Saoirse Ronan here,
    I too was captured by Jessica Barden’s look and fluidity in acting
    (I think another nice idea was her ill-kept red nail varnish on both hands and feet,
    which makes her look like a real teen girl with hastily put make-up;
    it made her character very believable ).
    Could affirm that the scenes featuring the two of them talking
    left more impression in me than action scenes,
    but I fear that would be unfair to the director’s effort:
    I really appreciated the sharp brutality of violence in here,
    it’s like a glimpse of reality who soils a void surface
    of contemporary action movies
    (and I think that the inconsistencies
    many thought to see in the story work well to this meaning)

    October 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

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