111 minutes

British director Joe Wright's second American film is an alternately surreal and pounding coming-of-age thriller. Yes, you read that well: its titular heroine is a teenage girl homeschooled in history, geography and fighting skills in a remote Finnish cottage by her ex-double agent father, let loose in the real world as a coming-of-age experience. If you think the premise is unusual, mr. Wright's handling takes it dazzlingly over-the-top, moving from the initial scenes' matter-of-fact naturalism into a progressively more far-out fairytale surrealism as Hanna begins to navigate the world outside the snowy woods she lived in for most of her life. There's no Prince Charming on the other side of the mirror, but there is definitely a Big Bad Wolf in the shape of Evil Queen Cate Blanchett, relishing her role as the CIA handler whose work twenty years ago is the secret behind Hanna's origin story and her dad's escape into the woods.
     Reteaming with mr. Wright, Saoirse Ronan, whose graceful supporting turn in Atonement launched her career, is superb as Hanna in a performance whose high-wire balance between steely adult poise and emotional inexperience would be hard enough for an older actor, let alone a teenager; and the remainder of the well-chosen cast rises up to the challenge of making the heightened reality of the film's world look and feel credible. But although the glossy, driving handling keeps moving Hanna forward, the director doesn't always combine to taste its disparate elements of action thriller and stylized comic-book, and the Chemical Brothers' beat-driven score is a terrible fit with the film's emotional subtext. Still, its overt weirdness and risk-taking approach to a standard genre thriller are rare enough in a mainstream film; for that alone Hanna is well worth seeing.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemying, Jessica Barden; and Cate Blanchett.
     Directed by Joe Wright; produced by Leslie Holleran, Marty Adelstein, Scott Nemes; screenplay by Seth Lochhead and David Farr, based on a story by mr. Lochhead; music by The Chemical Brothers (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons); director of photography (digital intermediate by Technicolor, widescreen), Alwin Küchler; production designer, Sarah Greenwood; costume designer, Lucie Bates; film editor, Paul Tothill.
     A Focus Features presentation of a Holleran Company/Sechszehnte Babelsberg/Neunte Babelsberg co-production, in association with Twins Financing; with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Filmförderungsanstalt. (US distributor and world sales, Focus Features. European distributor, Sony Pictures Releasing International.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, Columbia Tristar Warner screening room, Lisbon, June 20th 2011. 


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