Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Sometimes you come across a new young actor that you are sure will is destined to leave behind a legacy in film. Although this first impression doesn't happen often they do sneak up on me, usually in above average films. These are some that come to mind. Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland), Leonardo DiCaprio (What's Eating Gilbert Grape), Christian Bale (Empire of the Sun), Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass and 500 Days of Summer) and now Saoirse Ronan. I covered Saoirse last year in my review of Lovely Bones. and raved about her then. This role permits her to further showcase her skills. In both she attacks the role with an innocence that is rarely seen in child actor roles. In Hanna we see this innocence and also the haunting fierceness that a programmed killer requires. She filled the screen in every scene, which isn't easy to do when you are sharing that screen with Eric Bana and the incomparable Cate Blanchett. Watch for her in the years to come.

Now for the film. It stands its ground well when you consider that this story has been done before to near perfection in Luc Besson's Leon: The Professional. Although the films are similar their approach to character development differ in a fundamental way. Natalie Portman as Mathilda was allowed to take a more Lolita approach (which she made famous in her subsequent role as Marty in 1996's Beautiful Girls), while Ronan as Hanna had to convince us that she was as wise in killing as she was bewildered in the everyday trappings of modern life. Both actresses fielded complex roles and both surpassed the material and improved the project.

I am also going to try something new here. I will rate the movie out of ten using two measurements. First a rating of the overall entertainment value of the movie. Some great movies may fall shorter on entertainment value but yet still hold historical or critical significance based on memorable acting, daring story line or breakthrough cinematic styling. Hence the second rating will measure this cinematic significance. A movie such as Avatar might get a 5 or 6 for entertainment and 8-9 for significance.

This movie: Entertainment value of 6.5 with 7.5 significance for the acting and compelling storytelling.

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