Archive for April, 2011


Sunday, April 10th, 2011—Film

Hanna (USA/UK/Germany 2011, Action/Adventure/Thriller), Writers: Seth Lochhead, David Farr; Director: Joe Wright

Once upon a time in Hollywoodland, a brilliant young actress named Saoirse Ronan re-teamed with her Atonement director Joe Wright to defy boundaries and conventions, and create a new twist on the classic fairytale. The result? A very twisted tale indeed.

Hanna is about a lovely girl with big blue eyes and flowing blond locks, who was raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) in a Finnish forest to be the perfect assassin. Poppa is a former CIA agent with a score to settle. Hanna (Ronan) is grappling with the usual coming-of-age issues facing most young girls who have been brought up in isolation, exposed to the outside world through only Grimm’s fairytales and an outdated encyclopedia, trained to kill without hesitation or remorse, and ingrained with the mantra “Adapt or die.”

When Hanna hits the golden age of 16, Erik realizes she’s ready to step out into the world and complete her life’s mission: to kill CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). Hanna flips the switch to adulthood—the one that also alerts Marissa to her whereabouts, and brings a torrent of armored gunmen to the snow-covered forest for Hanna’s capture—and the story kicks into high gear.

As she journeys through Morocco and Europe, Hanna encounters a series of oddball characters, many of whom are distortions of “classic” fairytale characters. (One is even called Mr. Grimm.) Through her coming-of-age adventure, she gets her first kiss, makes her first friend and completes her first human kill. In the reverse order. And usually in time to The Chemical Brothers’ psychedelic score.

Wright clearly had fun exploring how to incorporate fairytale allusions throughout the film. There’s an abundance of visual references to support the script, as well as a killer soundtrack. In his trippy and highly stylized approach, Wright somehow manages to make his heroine’s peculiar point of view seem normal when compared with the characters and scenarios she stumbles upon. From the hippie tourist family Hanna picks up with, to the manic, obsessive-compulsive Marissa, and especially to Marissa’s rogue henchman Isaacs (Tom Hollander), who plays very much like a sideshow ringmaster, nearly everyone Hanna meets on the yellow brick trail full of bread crumbs is a little… off.

The film takes risks. It throws genre conventions onto the chopping block, then tosses them all back into the bowl to serve up a unique blend of drama and satire, hyperrealism and caricature, simplicity and overkill. A tidily book-ended world of chaos. A bedtime story with bipolar mood disorder.

Hanna may be touted as “a fairytale gone wrong.” But it’s definitely a movie gone right.