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Movie Review: Children can be badasses, too

Saoirse Ronan

About two-thirds of the way through Hanna, Marissa, the CIA agent hunting the film’s title character, says, “Sometimes children are bad people, too.”

You already know that Hanna isn’t bad, just badass – a 13-year-old superhuman fighting machine Marissa created and now wants to kill. You feel for the naïve Hanna and hate the sociopathic Marissa, but Cate Blanchett delivers Marissa’s line with such southern-accented smarm that you have to giggle while loathing her.

These juxtaposing emotions continue throughout watching Hanna. You’ll love Hanna’s naiveté and genius, but you’ll be shocked and scared by her violence. You’ll be thrilled by the fast-paced chase scenes and beautifully choreographed fights, but you’ll wish you could watch it all in slow motion because the cinematography, art direction and lighting are all so crazy beautiful. You’ll want Erik, Hanna’s father played by Eric Bana, to hurry it up and save his daughter or kill Marissa, but you’ll also want to him to stand still in wet underwear a little longer, because, damn, Eric Bana has a hot body.

Hanna, the best movie I’ve seen this year, is a big surprise. Joe Wright made his name directing two excellent period dramas, Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Both are smart, beautiful literary adaptations about British domestic drama, so Wright is not the person probably anyone would think about first when looking for a director for a movie about a teenage super soldier on a mission to kill the woman who killed her mother after experimenting on her embryo. It turns out that Wright may be as versatile as fellow Englishman Danny Boyle, who transitions easily from epic to intimate, whose visual and sonic style Wright’s Hanna most closely resembles.

Wright’s bold and beautiful colors (reds, blues, whites and greens in particular), his unexpected camera angles, and a pulsing techno soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers all reminded me, at times, of Boyle’s work on Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire.

But Boyle never had Saoirse Ronan or Cate Blanchett to work with. Wright used the almost translucently pale Ronan with skill in Atonement; her character’s childish ignorance costs her sister everything, and Ronan was brilliantly believable as the jealous and confused girl.

In Hanna, Ronan is a full-fledged teenager. Hanna has until now been living in the woods with her father, and she knows nothing of music or television until she decides to go after Marissa. Hanna is growing up, discovering the violence of herself in the violence of the world, and discovering secrets, veering towards an early adulthood.


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Posted by on Apr 14, 2011. Filed under Movie Review. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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