Monday, April 11, 2011

Hanna aka Running, Vague Fairytale Overtones, Techno Music and More Running

Anybody know how to say "please don't bean me with a shuttlecock" in German? I ask because there were in fact two German people playing badminton in front of the dorms and while they giggled with carefree German abandon, they also almost whacked me in the face with the shuttlecock thing (heh, shuttlecock). So yeah, now I get to fear for death by badminton while eating my lunch outside. There's a sentence I never really saw myself typing. Anyway, went and saw Hanna today and it was...weird.

Apparently Joe Wright was just biding his time with all these British period dramas

So Hanna was a movie who's progression could best be described as:

"So...that just happened"

Hanna tells the story of the titular teenaged girl, played by Saoirse Ronan, who lives in the woods with her German Daddy, Erik, played by Eric Bana, who I generally like to nickname Eric Banal but he's pretty good here. Anyway, they live in the woods and he raises her to be this little efficient killing-machine, full of a random variety of facts and information as well as fighting and survival tehchniques but kind of useless at blending in as a normal human being. What is Daddy Erik training Hanna for? Good question. The answer is "something something evil CIA woman who wants to kill you if she knew you existed so you have to kill her first something something you're special something" Yeah. Enter the villain, Marissa Wiegler, played by Cate Blanchett, in a wildly uneven southern accent that shifts from nonexistent to Yosemite Sam at a moment's notice.

"Thunder and tarnation, I hates that rabbit!"

So when Hanna decides she is ready to rock, Erik reveals their presence to the CIA, leaving Hanna to do her work and promising to meet with her in Berlin. Hanna is captured, escapes, and runs.

and runs

and has a lovely interlude where she meets up with a wacky British family on holiday composed of two precocious kids (the pop-culture obsessed and sarcastic but incredibly sweet daughter is funny as hell when juxtaposed against quiet, matter-of-fact Hanna), and the parents are the teacher everyone fancied in Rushmore and the ginger gangster from every Guy Ritchie movie ever.

and then runs some more.


All to the tune of some interesting atmospheric techno by The Chemical Brothers. Not as good as Daft Punk though. Just saying. The thing about Hanna is that the beginning is very tight, we have a lot of questions but the story is moving, the plot is engaging and everything is very claustrophobic. Once Hanna and the Brits leave the close walls of Morocco (it's complicated) and enter the open country the movie seems to get lost and devolve into running with brief pauses for cool fight scenes and an ultimately unsatisfying and inconclusive finale.


-There is a terrifying villain in the form of Tom Hollander's flamboyant and threatening German nightclub owner who murders people on the side for Cate Blanchett. Never have I been so freaked out by someone in a pale yellow tracksuit:

Just trust me on this one

But his character is never explored, motivations left unknown and he is never really utilized. Similarly, we never see what becomes of a whole host of characters, I guess we're supposed to assume they're dead but the movie is too busy showing Hanna run.

-There is also the whole "fairytale" angle everyone keeps talking about but to me the movie didn't seem very married to the idea of it as a Grimm fairytale. It's just a thriller peppered with bits of symbolism and imagery that sort of kind of allude to fairytales instead of actually, I dunno making connections or explaining things. Like, Blanchett's character has this weird thing with brushing her teeth til they bleed and we're supposed to go "she's evil! and teeth-focused! She's like the Wolf or something and now she has blood on her teeth-SYMBOLIC, YO"

It just feels lazy is all. Like if they stylize it enough, make all their visual choices look deep they somehow become deep. Not so much. After the first hour, Hanna flounders and never really gets back on course.

Final words: Hanna is by no means a bad film. It is well-acted, well-scored and the cinematography is really incredible, there are some amazing shots. But it's creepy without ever doing anything with it, tense without ever giving any more than a subtext of a reason for the tension, it quickly becomes tedious and the ending leaves you with more questions than anything else. Hanna stabs its way to two and a half catapults out of five.

One last thing: Roger Ebert made an interesting point in his review of Hanna where he compared her to Hit Girl from Kick-Ass, commenting on the inherent creepiness of the girl-child murder-machine. It's admittedly kind of fetish-y and he makes the point of asking "what would people say if it was a 16 year old boy killing bitches instead?" I'm not really going anywhere with this, just something to think about.

Anyway, this is Sugary Cynic, keeping an eye out for awkward blonde waifs who might try to snap my neck. 'Night!

CleverEuphemism: "What helps me like the movie more is imagining Saoirse Ronan is playing Briony from Atonement and all the bad guys wanna kill her cuz she's such a bitch"


  1. I'm going to write a book one day about Hamnet, the male equivalent of Hanna. And also, Shakespeare's dead son. Because he's multilayered like that.

  2. In my experience you have to be very firm with German badminton players.

  3. A: Oh you :p

    Simon: Joe Wright will probably be willing to direct if Hamnet can be played by Saoirse Ronan

    Chris: Thanks for the tip, I will keep it in mind for next time

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