“Hannah” & those Brits that Make Films

Joe Wright directs Hannah

Those Brits sure know how to make fascinating and unique films.  Not always good films, but fascinating films that are certainly different from our American formula of movie-making.  My experience with British directors first started with Nicolas Roeg (Performance, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Bad Timing) whose kaleidoscope of imagery and fractured story-telling may have been responsible for the music video aesthetic of the 1970’s and 80’s.  Then I discovered Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) whose dynamic camera angles and film manipulations give his motion pictures an energy that is unrivaled.  Now, I am pleased to have found the films of Joe Wright, whose Hannah is a magician’s adventure of lush imagery and spectacular editing.  The film is guaranteed to be a fun-filled adventure of visuals, but unfortunately not much more than that.

My first encounter with Joe Wright was in 2007 with his film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement.  The first forty minutes of that film, with its clever use of editing and its re-telling of events from the perspective of different characters, had me captivated (and its ending had me heartbroken).  So it’s only natural that I would be very curious to know what film Joe Wright would take on next.  However, I wasn’t interested in seeing a journalist befriend a homeless, Julliard-trained musician in The Soloist (2009), so I passed on that one.  However, I am interested in a young girl whose trained to hunt, shoot, and fight by her father in order to survive, that sounds brutal.  And brutal and violent it certainly is, yet also so much more… magical.

Saorise Ronan is trained to kill as Hannah

Imagine Jason Bourne leaping into the rabbit hole to follow a white rabbit like Alice had done in her adventures in Wonderland, then you will have a better understanding of “Hannah”.  It is a blend of fairy tales and top secret branches of the CIA; magical, violent, and a little ridiculous.  From the the opening scene, to the moment that Hannah presses the big red button that begins her adventure, and even up to the climatic shoot-out towards the end,  you’ll be confused.  You’ll say to yourself, “How come she’s being chased? What’s so special about her?” But don’t worry, all will be revealed.  But is the movie worth sitting through to the very end?  No, not really.  Actually, the ending resembles the origin story of Captain America.  I think the whole film is Joe Wright’s attempt at making a comic book film, or something similar to The Manchurian Candidate.  It’s a fascinating and unique concept, but it just does not hit the mark that it aimed for.  “Hannah” is not the self-reflective glance at ourselves as animals learning to be human beings, like I think the screenwriter and director imagined it to be.  It is more similar to those other British films that I’ve seen; a stylish attempt at a great concept, just not very clear.

My overall opinion: Neat, but a little disappointing.

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