Thursday, 29 December 2011

Hanna - A Fairytale

Hanna is wonderful.

And I don't just mean the 16 year old, trained from birth assassin – although Saoirse Ronan in the role is indeed wonderful.

The film itself evokes a sense of wonder much like a fairytale, that aptly matches the title character’s own discovery of the world.

Here we have an action thriller shot like an art film via the dreamy haze of a fairytale. At times, such as in one early chase scene, the camera spins dizzily about, disorientating - as Hanna flees in unfamiliar concrete environs.
Another moment sees Eric Bana in a single take shot where it follows him through the streets and then down into a Berlin subway culminating in a frantic fight scene.

In contrast, the intimate moment between two girls is shot in soft lighting and fuzzy close ups.

The cinematography is continually stylish and striking whilst still staying true to the narrative. Hanna has been sheltered (literally) whilst growing up in a wintery forest and the wealth of new experiences hitting her senses (already highly tuned genetically) when going out into the civilised world for the first time, manifests itself in this distinct dreamy, fairytale style.

The music by the Chemical Brothers also adds to the overall effect – frantic electronic pounding one minute, soft enchanting tinkling the next.

Obvious fairytale signposting comes in the form of the Brothers Grimm abandoned theme park featured in the film – but less obvious is the narrative undertones of Hanna discovering who her parents really are and her intended place in the world – a familiar theme of many a fairytale – not forgetting the evil witch role played by Cate Blanchett’s dastardly CIA agent Marissa.

Audiences more used to traditional action fare have been divided down the middle by Hanna – some lauding this mash up of styles, others deriding its lack of grounded realism. But since when have fairytales had to be realistic?

I personally thought it was an excellent and stylish film that succeeded in transferring Hanna’s own sense of wonder and enchantment over to the viewer.

All that's left for me to wonder now is who would win a fight between her and Hit Girl?

28 Dec 2011

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