I watched Hanna on the advice of a very close friend of mine. The film had to be brilliant, she said, as she had to gather data about my taste in films very carefully for years and so, wouldn’t recommend it unless she knew I really would love it.
And I did. Vehemently.
I watched it knowning very little about the plot and avoided any synopses of the film, so I will attempt to keep it as elusive as possible. This is the best way to enjoy Hanna though, through a verbal description of the film, it does sound rather mediocre.
“A girl who’s an assassin goes on an adventure to find someone and kill them,” said my friend, excitedly, having just watched the film.
“That sounds original” I quipped.
But Hanna truly is something different.
We observe a young woman develop and evolve from a warrior – an innocent and naive killing machine – into a teenage girl. It’s about the power of friendship and what giving someone a chance can do. It’s about more about learning than growing up; Hanna herself is an encyclopaedia and defines everything, but has never left her nomadic existence in a German forest. Thanks to her father, Erik (Eric Bana), Hanna has never heard music – but she can kill a man in a literal blink of an eye.
Where are you from?
In the search for an identity, we often take advantage of what we have in favour of what could have been. The fantasies that live in our minds take priority over realities, and this is what is explored in Hanna – her once close and organic relationship with her father becomes one of confusion and betrayal. This is redeemed by her functional and nourishing friendship with Sophie, a British tourist who takes a liking to Hanna’s “weird” nature, and believes she is a fascinating and ultimately, good friend. Hanna experiences many firsts with Sophie which – also in terms of cinematography – are exquisite and made me lament the adventures and explorations of teen-dom I never experienced. The nostalgia and beauty of youth is contrasted perfectly with Hanna’s violent (though necessary) upbringing and her natural innocence, displayed through her few weaknesses – family, and her only friend, Sophie.
The most impressive aspect of Hanna is the connection viewers make with a young woman – despite killing a fully grown moose and a line of men that resembles the queue for the toilet at your local club – Hanna is a thrilling and emotional tale of redemption, self-discovery and identity, and you can’t help but feel as though you want to jump into her world, take her by the hand and tell her everything will be fine.
A role authentically played by Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Hanna is surprisingly straight-forward despite its conflict of themes – innocence from a trained assassin, violence stemming from a lonely and troubled young woman – director Joe Wright (Atonement) juxtaposes Hanna’s upbringing and natural sensitivity perfectly (brilliantly described in one blog as “Snow White meets the Terminator“). The pace of the film changes throughout, but one thing’s for sure – it’s never tiresome.
- Fast-paced, intriguing, genuinely thrilling and heartbreaking plot
- Charts the simple evolution of a young woman through beautiful scenery
- Fantastic soundtrack from The Chemical Brothers that only adds to the ambience – my favourites are The Devil is in the Beats (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqvgNtBLXiE) and Car Chase (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcULUQWOYTg)
- Cate Blanchett.
- Perhaps a bit too fantastic, the film may leave you sniggering in disbelief
- The unknown fates of some characters may annoy some, though it added depth of plot for me
- Eric Bana’s German accent.
A beautiful tale of friendship, acceptance and the importance of family ties, Hanna is a perfect weekend movie. Enough action for adrenaline-junkies, plenty of breathtaking scenery (I remember taking lots of screencaps on my first viewing) for the artistes, and a great story for everyone.