Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hanna (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


      When "Hanna" begins,  we are  plunged in a Winter Wonderland, halfway between Stieg Larsson and Lars Von Trier. There is a meditative still shot of a deer. Delicate in tranquility. But this is not Disney's Bambi. This is no "Snow White".  A swooping crunch of air. Buckets of blood. We see a innocent looking blonde youngster right out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, collecting the deer's warm insides. Her hands bloody, her fair curls blowing in the snow.
      This feral kid is Hanna, played by Saoirse Ronan who also appeared as an enigmatic wanderer in the recent Tropic shown film "The Way Back". Ms. Ronan's Hanna is raised in the Arctic Circle. She is home-schooled in a little wooden cabin right out of "Little Red Riding Hood". Somehow even though she is educated with all kinds of facts about countries and fluent in presumably any language, ( And all this while still a teen!) she is blissfully ignorant about the invention of electricity. What?!?  Hanna is part killing machine, part Alice in Wonderland, with a smidge of something Frankensteinian in her.  The hum of electricity alone makes her go nuts. Or if some boy wants to kiss her. Oh the ridiculousness of puberty.
      She is told by her father (Eric Bana) that she can leave at any time. All she has to do is press a little red button. Really? Is this a fairy tale? Wait don't tell me...! A wicked stepmother, Marissa (Cate Blanchett) comes on the scene complete with a mop of flaming red hair. She has a penchant for stern heels, several pairs. And when angry, Blanchett's face blanches white and she brushes her teeth with a steel wool ferocity until her gums need stitches.
      Somehow The Mysterious Dad vanishes in the snow and Hanna is taken in a raid. Her dad is a rogue agent and Hanna is to be put under lock and key in a high security cell that would give Hannibal Lecter the giggles. 
      The primary fun is watching Hanna escape and escape she does, from tube to tube, ladder to ladder, eviscerating bad guy after bad guy. Scored my the music of The Chemical Brothers, Hanna  blood dances in a homicidal rave. 
      Suffice to say, she ends up in Morocco, somehow getting her hands on the traditional dress. She falls in with a well meaning bohemian family who stays clueless except for a chattering daughter who is rather annoying (Jessica Barden).
      But all is not well in gory Grimmland. 
      Marissa goes to a strip club of all places and gives a peck to a bleach blonde henchman  (Tom Hollander)  with a penchant for hermaphrodites, leisure suits and childhood melodies. The illegitimate offspring of Goldfinger and Truman Capote? Not half as colorful. He is a quasi-facsimile of the Stieg Larsson  villain, Neidermann. He takes the task of presumably taking the young terror alive or scaring her to death. 
      Meanwhile, to her horror, Hanna learns that she was part of a genetic hybrid experiment. Does she have tiger blood? Only Charlie Sheen would know. But we are left in the dark. There is only a string of genetic code and the heading: Abnormal.
      There is more hand to hand combat. Slashings and slittings. No man can get close to her. She finally reaches an odd fairytale dwelling which looks strangely run down and tawdry like Tim Burton faced with budget cuts: broken dinosaurs in the yard, decapitated animals in the foyer, a cluttered kitchen.
      Aha! A disheveled gnome of a man appears--a kind magician  with a soiled flower on his bare chest. This also doesn't make much sense. But no matter. You have to just let go. In an eerie scene that recalls the murder in the "Da Vinci Code", Hanna is on the run again.
      Finally! The expected showdown between the Evil Marissa and Hanna the Horrible! The chemistry between them works, mainly because Blanchett is just as brutal as Ms. Ronan. This is a "Nick at Night" Bourne Identity, Jr. fight to the death. Better late than never.
      I read that the director was influenced by David Lynch in the making of this film. But I found this movie more "Salt" than surreal. Despite this however, Ms. Ronan's visual magnetism manages a poignancy with punch. Her face is as painterly as  young Ophelia, forlorn beneath the snow. 

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