'Hanna' story line fails to deliver

Making a compelling movie trailer is an art unto itself, and the trailer to "Hanna" is superb. Shot in the startlingly white landscape of northern Finland, with wide shots of a bleak but lovely landscape, as well as tight shots of Saoirse Ronan, who we assume is Hanna, her icy blue eyes, porcelain skin and wild, blond hair framed by rough-cut animal skins.

Who is she? Who can this woman-child be? And who is her father, Erik, portrayed by Eric Bana, and why are they living in such stark isolation? And why is she being trained to be a Samurai warrior as if her very life depended on it?

The hope is that the film will fulfill all that is promised in the trailer. There has to be a story here that will intrigue and engage and will be remarkable. As remarkable as Hanna.

Surprisingly, the story fails to deliver. The backstory, which is not forthcoming until act three, is thin to nonexistent. Though the film has often been likened to a Grimm's fairy tale, the Brothers Grimm knew that you explained in act one what was at stake and why the evil witch, Marissa Wiegler — in this case played by Cate Blanchett — presents a serious threat to the lovely princess.

What the film evolves into is a disjointed road trip from Morocco to Germany with no real understanding why Hanna is being hunted with such murderous determination.

And so "Hanna" goes flat at a time when the tension should have been ratcheted up and up.

Joe Wright is a fine director — "Atonement," "Pride and Prejudice" — and he certainly had a fine ensemble of actors at his disposal. But as so often happens, the story falters and the reasons these government assassins are so intent on either killing or capturing Hanna is obscure. And if the threat is not made clear, then the stakes for Hanna are also elusive and even confusing.

The film does bring to mind the "The Bourne Identity." Jason's backstory, which was slowly revealed, served to enrich the film. That doesn't happen in "Hanna." Regrettably.


There was a time when being a drunk was, at least in Hollywood and on television, portrayed as being mildly amusing.

The first "Arthur," made in 1981, starring Dudley Moore, earned Moore an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Arthur Bach, the billionaire alcoholic who found life insistently boring, despite his wealth. He had concluded meaning was to be found in a crystal tumbler of scotch, hold the ice.

This was a period when Dean Martin appeared on "The Dean Martin Show" in black tie (undone), cigarette in one hand and glass of whiskey in the other, while he used his smoky, velvety voice to sing, dance, and introduce his guest for the week. He always seemed half in the bag, which was, of course, his shtick.

Fast forward to 2011 and the remake of "Arthur" starring Russell Brand as Arthur Bach, man-child, obscenely wealthy, who has managed to spend his vacuous life doing little else but indulge himself while remaining semi-inebriated most of the time.

His caretaker, Ms. Hobson, the full-time nanny, portrayed nicely by Helen Miren, tends to his every need and makes sure the wheels of his life are well greased, while assuring that Arthur's arrested development will remain exactly that.

There is nothing remotely attractive or humorous about him as a character. He is self-absorbed, shallow and with nary a serious thought that might disturb his sleep (he sleeps on a magnetic bed).

The plot is equally inane and not worth discussing. There is, however, a nugget hidden deeply in all this flotsam and jetsam and that's a love story. It's not an original love story, but it is sweet, the sweetness due in great part to Greta Gerwig who is lovely and inherently innocent and Arthur's love interest. What is never made clear is why a bright, sensitive woman who aspires to write children's books would want to get within talking distance of Arthur, the man certainly reeking of alcohol while his speech is slurred and often incoherent (his heavy Brit accent doesn't help). Had the filmmakers decided to make Arthur interesting and reflective and honest (more than one-dimensional?), it wouldn't have been the same movie, but then that would have been all to the good.

In 2011, most know that alcohol destroys lives, kills people on the road and is an insidious addiction. There is little joy found in watching a rich person, who could do so much for others, settle for being a public train wreck and a drunk. No matter the tidy ending tacked on at the end. Good grief.

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