The film Hanna, released in the spring and now on DVD, seems to have become a bit controversial for those who write reviews, for as I researched the information on line, it was up, down, up, down. Still I am left with having had a great experience, and isn’t that what films are all about?
A cross of thriller and action, with a tad of sci-fi thrown in on the side, this film is a visual feast start to finish. The editing is clean and crisp, with a gritty, avante plethora of eye candy.
The girl as Hanna (Saoirse Ronan..who?) is astounding and carries the film. She is mesmerizing to watch, perfect like a pale alien-fairy thrown into a myriad of environments, while she runs from her assassins and devours life in passing.
She has been raised in the forests of Finland with her father, who has taught her everything he knows as an ex CIA agent, in order to ready her for her fate.
Very slowly the pieces come together, while you are carried through the most varied of scenes, while kinky quirky characters pass through her world, each clearly holding their own with the pace of the film.
Fiercely centered, acutely aware, her soft fragility is only intensified by the contrast of bleak landscapes and quick action packed encounters. And she is always up to the meet.
She bonds with a girl her age who steals a few scenes from her, and becomes the contrast for her sheltered yet highly trained life, this girl being hilariously precocious, verbally unfettered, and equally fascinating. Kate Blanchett is strong and as smooth as a $200 bottle of well aged Merlot, while her father, played by Eric Bana, is a steady and caring background for her to hold on to.
When she asks “what is music ?”, and you realize just how sheltered from the world she has been, his answer is music itself…”music: a combination of sounds, with a view to beauty and form, and expression of emotion.”
And the Musical Soundtrack was appropriately ‘other’… no evocative violins, or orchestrated and predictable train leading you…. It was provided by The Chemical Brothers, who at times felt like the Beach Boys crossed with the Cocteau Twins, other times with a flash of Dead Can Dance, and then space it all with global-weird sounds.
OK, so I’m definitely looking Them up.
The often surreal scenes begin in the isolated cabin in snow covered forests, hunting with bow and arrow, cooking on a fire, then move to such startling and also surreal places like an abandoned amusement park with giant broken animal pieces; running alleys among street people and graffiti; lost with a band of dancing singing gypsies; trekking through bleak desert expanses alone; tossed amid tribal marketplaces, and hooking up with a nuclear family site seeing in a mini bus……. like palette cleansers, each sharpens the next. And all along, the sounds carry you.
In all, it transports, amuses, and challenges, without being cloying or gimmicky. The sensual and delicious visuals, and the actress herself, make it all worthwhile. The quirky characters along the journey provide the spice, and the precise, economical editing and directing sets each scene apart from the next, while remaining both obtuse and cohesive.
And just what of the message? I don’t know, and frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.