Review of Hanna (2011) – spoiler-free

Posted by on 15 Apr, 2011 in Articles | 0 comments

Saoirse-ronan-in-hanna-2011

 

Normally when I like a movie, the first thing I do when I get home from the cinema is to jump online and see what other people have said, gauge opinions, validate theories, and dig deeper into the director, writer, actors etc. But this film made such an impact I’m going to be bold and review it purely on my own impressions. It was, quite simply, outstanding. It was the best film I’ve seen all year, even better than Inception and Source Code, the only two other mainstream releases that have really wowed me this year. (I’m not counting Tron Legacy; that one certainly wowed me, but on reflection I realized it was all style and no substance).

 

The good news is that Hanna has style and substance in bucketloads. The plot is intricate enough and the characters deep enough to keep you glued to your seat, and you never quite know what will happen next – but unlike most Hollywood fare, there are no quick fixes or predictable moments.. at every turn it always takes the road less travelled.

 

The style is fantastic, but down-to-earth. Real life locations are given a fresh twist with unusual but believable lighting effects, and what would be ordinary scenes of conversation or exposition feel fresh and engaging thanks to original camera angles and beautiful composition. The locations are deliciously original too. You can tell that every scene has been carefully designed for cinematic impact, but yet the film always feels natural, flowing and not at all forced. The soundtrack and sound effects are quite unique too; scenes feel unique, brash, outlandish even – at times the production feels like it may have been influenced by A Clockwork Orange.

 

One of the most impressive things about Hanna is that it has all the elements of a Hollywood hit – car chases, questionable government officials, shootouts, moral dilemmas, tender moments (don’t worry, in saying that I’m not saying anything you wouldn’t get from the trailer). But yet despite having all those things, the director ensures that everything that transpires only happens because it needs to happen, because it makes sense and will advance the story. The action is more Run Lola Run than Bourne Identity, and the journey is more Little Miss Sunshine than The Road.

 

I haven’t checked into the background yet but I feel sure this must be a book adaptation. The characters are so rich, so unique and believable – some downright bizarre – that it must be more than just superb acting, but detailed writing. Everyone we meet along the way has a story, a personality, a raison d’ĂȘtre. Even better, unlike typical mainstream fare, we don’t get these details rammed down our throat. The viewer is treated with respect; we are given clues but it’s up to us to put the pieces together, figure out what the characters’ motivations are and why they choose the courses they do. If this is a book adaptation, the film’s creators have done a fine job of conveying a complex and intricate storyline – without dumbing it down as so often happens when a novel must be squeezed into 95 minutes.

 

There is so much more I could say but I do not wish to spoil your first experience of this fine piece of film-making. This is a film to be enjoyed, and a film which refuses to fit in any particular box or genre. It’s a story about a girl, and to really appreciate the film you need know nothing more than that. Just enjoy the journey with her.

 

Now to go and read some reviews…

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