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Teen Review: ‘Hanna’

Wicked Fairy Tale

Saoirse Ronan in action as

Credit: Focus Features

Above: Saoirse Ronan in action as "Hanna."

The best description I could give for the new film "Hanna" (opening April 8 in select theaters) is to call it a beautifully wicked fairy-tale.

Watching "Hanna" I was continuously reminded of the influences on this film from literature and cinema. Director Joe Wright derived the gritty, bizarre violence from films done by David Lynch in films such as Blue Velvet. Wright set a very magical tone to the film with allusions to fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm. Even the scenery is reminiscent of fairy tales. We start in the forest; then are taken across quiet and harsh winters in Finland; vast deserts in Morocco; the vibrant nightlife in Spain; and an abandoned amusement park in Berlin. Then all this is played out against the playfully sinister soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers.

This film is very sensory and engaging. The casting was remarkable. I noticed that Cate Blanchett and Olivia Williams had both starred as love interests for Wes Anderson films, such as "The Life Aquatic" and "Rushmore." Blanchett has proved to be one of the most versatile actresses around today, going so far as to playing as Bob Dylan in "I’m Not There." Her sinister role as the witch is not just a symbol of fear but a very real representation of her obsessions and restrictions as a federal agent. In interviews, Wright has explained that she is meant to play the role of the fairy tale witch, wearing mostly reds, greens, and black. She is absolutely ruthless.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Focus Features

Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander are up to no good in "Hanna."

Wright noted that he considered the scenery to represent the fairy tale aspect of the movie. His use of syntax from other fables throughout the dialogue really depict the child-like aspect of Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan). The henchman Isaacs is given dialogue that often references fairy tales. For example, he tells Erik (Eric Bana) “run little piggy” or says “off to grandmothers house we go." The meaning behind his lines is very sinister but also candy-coated like the fairy tales.

The character of Hanna is deprived of any type of childhood since her developmental purpose was to become the perfect killer. She is constantly struggling with not only her identity but also her life in the real world. Marissa Wiegler (Blanchett) is hell-bent on finding Hanna but Erik, her father, had trained Hanna to fight for her survival -- "adapt or die" he tells her. Saoirse Ronan almost reminds me of Uma Thurman as The Bride in "Kill Bill," only very young. Even Tom Hollander’s character of Isaacs reminds me of "Kill Bill's" California Mountain Snake, except he’s not whistling Twisted Nerve, he's whistling his theme from the Chemical Brothers. Hanna displays the intelligence and stealth of the perfect soldier she was designed to be yet she is still very human. She is amazed by everything and everyone she encounters yet shows a complete lack of social understanding. When her new friend’s mother asks, “Hanna, what did your mother die of? Hanna responds very nonchalantly, “three bullets."

I’m very happy that I got to see "Hanna" (rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language). I kept listening to the soundtrack over and over for days after seeing it. It’s not just another action movie or another thriller or a silly fairy tale. It is beyond all that.

Lidia Marin is a senior at Mount Miguel High School.

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