By Ray Pride
“How long have you been in the forest?”
A small, tight fistful of blunt lines like that in Joe Wright’s outlandish, determined art-house action thriller, “Hanna,” quickly set the heart of the casual admirer of Bruno Bettelheim’s fairytale study “The Uses of Enchantment” to racing. Wright is also bolder than ever with visual flourish.
A motherless child grows up in a rude cabin in far snowy reaches, taught by her father (Eric Bana) to be a ruthless mind, a calculating creature. She’s not amnesiac, she just knows no experience of the larger world: it’s “The Newbourne identity.” “Where do you come from?” “The forest.” The swamp, the primordial ooze, the soup, the shadows: from which all life and fear emerge. Outside the forest, a spy agency in the person of a Texas-twanging Cate Blanchett beckons, threatens.
There aren’t many high-functioning Asperger’s, tongue-in-cheek, Jesus-girl, killer-child thrillers in the market, which makes even the wooziest and blowziest moments of “Hanna” startling. A jarring mix of tones prevails, at one moment in settings that suggest Fassbinder making a “Modesty Blaise” and others, the Euro-oddness of the more gregarious films by Fatih Akin, like “Im Juli” or “Soul Kitchen.” As shot by the gifted Alwin Küchler (“Ratcatcher,” “Sunshine,” “Morvern Callar”) and tethered to the serene, slightly sinister percolation of a score by the Chemical Brothers, the world outside is otherworldly, as if we, the audience, were pitched into as much strangeness as bright young Hanna. Read the rest of this entry »