Hanna has no sisters

Went to see ‘Hanna’.  The director is Joe Wright; I had seen three of his films without noting that this was his work: Atonement, The Soloist, and Pride & Prejudice. I didn’t hate any of them; just didn’t notice them enough to see who had directed until this film.

In some ways, it’s like a european travelogue. It begins near the arctic circle, hops to Morocco (and some really spectacular scenery (I think it’s called the Atlas Mountains)), crosses the Gibraltar Strait into Spain and travels by barge toward Berlin. At least some of the director’s objective was to shock its inner child by pulling her from snowbound isolation into the expanse of desert. Then she is pulled into the stream of humanity: some are kind, some are helpless and others hunt her. She doesn’t know what to do with the first two, but knows exactly what to do with those who wish to do her harm.  She sees her species at its most elemental, and as she travels into Berlin, the camera is intent on capturing the freak show/underbelly of the city.

It’s beautifully shot, and it’s a good thing Saoirse Ronan gets along well with a camera. It’s also ridiculously jump-cut and it helps to be a polyglot while you’re watching. Substantial portions of the dialogue are unintelligible, even the english. It’s hard to remember a shot that lasts for more than thirty seconds. It’s a repeating meme that objects are there, and then they’re not.

Most of the deaths are off-camera, but the bodycount is impressive. The door to a sequel is wide open, but this is not a film for everyone. It gets in your face very purposefully, but not from a ‘tranformers’ perspective. Her journey tells her that she is a freak, without knowing her origins. Her first meaningful contacts range from kind and lovely to horrific and painful. Throw in some wondrous and primal and you have a mix that is not usually seen on screens in the states. Props just for that.

Tom Hollander plays a freak who’s hired to hunt Hanna down. He drives a white Land Rover and has skinheads for flunkies. His hair is bleached blonde and he’s wearing guyliner. He’s always tended toward pudge and dressing him in a white tracksuit does him no favors. Here, he’s really quite wonderful. They only give him one real scene with Cate Blanchette, which is a shame. He makes the most of the secondary bad guy role.

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