Sunday, April 24, 2011


Roger Ebert has his own take on this film, "a first-rate thriller about the drawbacks of home schooling," which is somewhat bunk and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. We both like it, but maybe Ebert likes it just that little bit more.

One consistent theme throughout the entire film (and from now on, I presume you've seen it) is the way all the beautiful people are evil. That includes Hanna, whose murders can justifiably be considered innocent self-defense, because the child, a Wunderkind product of extreme genetic engineering, is not responsible for her own uncanny reflexes, superior endurance, inhuman strength, quick uptake or underdeveloped sense of empathy.

By contrast, the plain to ugly to broken normal people she meets on her journeys are beautiful only by culture and inclination; they rise above their disappointingly weed-like DNA. They are musicians like a Spanish flamenco troupe, plain, fat and accomplished, who sing with flamboyant bravura, loud, trained and traditional. Or they are mezzuins calling the faithful of Morocco to evening prayer, or simple hotel owners whose only demonstrable talents are kindness and safe haven.

Hanna loves music, hates noise — because she has hypersensitive hearing, she recoils from the cacaphony of random noises produced by simultaneous teakettles, ceiling fans, plinking fluorescent lights and Moroccan television game shows.

Everyone challenged in the comeliness department in Hanna's world is trustworthy, friendly and helpful, especially the unlikely Berlin magician, a good man as hairy, unshaven and perverse-looking as 40 years of American trope, meme and formula can lead one to expect. It's a subtle message — commonplace people are a young girl's safe companions and the salt of the earth.

Anyone nice to look at in this flick is ready to kill, and will soon make the attempt. Hanna, played by the gorgeous young Saoirse Ronan, is the sweetly deadliest of them all. She wants out of the life she was born to, either intensely aware of its limitations or stupidly comic about failing to get a grip on tritely ordinary situations — like a first kiss with a first, expendable, boy.

Her adversary, while beautiful, is a pitiless harridan whose gums bleed from obsessive dental (or is that mental?) hygiene, and whose death, when it comes, is mourned by no one. Only Hanna feels regret. She is sorry she spoiled the heart shot yet again, and now must waste a bullet on the head.

One peculiar aspect of this flick was the audience, which seemed to be composed almost exclusively of middle aged men who laughed at odd moments and seemed to miss the show's best points entirely, assuming the story is not just "as we are."



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