Got round to seeing Joe Wright’s Hanna on Film Four the other day. A few less than kind reviews lead to my not bothering when it hit the cinemas, despite my loving Wright’s Atonement and Pride and Prejudice.
Despite low expectations, I think it is a really great film. To call the story minimal, a bit derivative of other stories out there for fans of the genres is true, but besides the point. Wright pulls all the elements together to make something really special.
The Chemical Brothers soundtrack is key. It is the beating heart of the film. Some of Cate Blanchett’s acting is great. Action scenes, choreographed fights, cinematography and editing are all first class.
And while the plot seems slight, there’s clearly a lot of interesting symbolism: Freudian, surreal, horror, psychologically disturbing. This is very much a coming of age story of a young teenage girl waking up to the big bad world.
There’s more than one reference to the work of the Brothers Grimm. Dark fairy stories. A magician who dresses like a clown living in a gingerbread house, a man whose name just happens to be Grimm? Cool.
The evil witch – Blanchett – walking out of a giant big bad wolf’s head with a revolver… An early reference to supernovas reminds me of the story of the replicants in Blade Runner, clones burn brighter than the rest, but dying early like a supernova, with built in three year lifespan.
Hanna is designed to be disposable, and even her father is a fake. This revelation is prefigured by Hanna’s bedtime story of the Russian dog, Laika, sent into space who lived despite expectations. Alas, Laika wasn’t sent into space with any idea of bringing her home.
This is like Hanna. She is the girl designed to be a super soldier with the aid of special DNA. She isn’t needed to grow into adulthood. There is also the deer killed at the start, put out of its misery by Hanna after she realizes she has missed its heart, proving that she does have some of the pity that her creators had intended to eliminate. And the same line book ends the film as the evil witch discovers that she still has enough pity to put an injured creature out of its misery.
Thank you for being my friend, Hanna. This is a very much better movie than most of Rotten Tomatoes so-called top critics want us to believe. And it is another reason why Joe Wright is one of my favorite directors.