Hanna (2011)

Saoirse Ronan is "Hanna"

Usually immediately following the screening of a film that I know will be featured on my blog, I jot down a few thoughts or notes highlighting some of the points I would like to mention. In many ways I should have done this after my Tuesday night screening of Joe Wrights latest project, Hanna. But for whatever reason (possibly the late night) I did or could not muster up my resources to do so.

Instead I gave myself a “day off” to think about what I wanted to say. This was very dangerous territory I was entering; after all in reflecting upon Hanna I almost feel like I am trying to recount a very vivid, wicked dream  – and you know what they say about attempting to recount a dream accurately …

Alas in this case I do have enough of a recollection to talk about what I observed over the course of the approximately two hour running time. I will spend this time highlighting some of the major elements of the film – including the director, the performances and the music.

Since his feature film debut (Pride and Prejudice), what I admire about Joe Wright as a director is his remarkable talent to thread sequences of images (movements) into a cohesive constructive narrative. At times, such as in Atonement the sequences are a bit out order, but he is able to execute with great affect. It creates almost a dreamlike experience for the viewer. This is how I felt in Atonement and it is definitely my reaction to Hanna. You really get a sense of “otherworldliness” without dipping too much into the world of the overly fantastic; there is still a realistic feel to what you are seeing. It is simply part of your task as a viewer to figure out exactly where you are. In less capable hands, what you might end up with are a bunch of scenes that ultimately lead the audience nowhere.

Much of the credit of adding to this atmosphere must obviously go to the actors who made the experience worth the price of admission. Especially notable is Saoirse Ronan in another great turn. She is able to turn in a performance that says a whole lot with very little … as Hanna she is able to convey a savage innocence while at the same time come across as a potentially threatening figure.  To get this type in an adult is one thing but to see it from a person so young is remarkable and you can only imagine what she will be like in future roles.

Now onto the music – much has been made about the techno-inspired score as composed by The Chemical Brothers. I am not particularly a fan of techno music myself so when I heard about this music/film collaboration I had my reservations.   Ultimately they proved to be somewhat unfounded. The combination of some “traditional” musical scoring matched up quite well with the more upbeat, frenetic music that often signaled key action and plot movements.

You may have noticed that I have gotten this far into the piece without talking about some of the other visual/narrative “tips of a hat” that are implemented in this film. Without giving away too much, in fact ANY of the plot (the trailer in this case was pretty good – gave you a sense of the movie without giving TOO much), I will say that you are indeed in for a ride – a dark, twisted, fantastic, thrilling, sometimes violent, at other times amusing fairy tale the Grimms’ would have surely loved.

Hanna. Directed by Joe Wright, story and screenplay by Seth Lochhead; screenplay by David Farr. From Focus Features. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana