Hanna – ass-kicking teenage girl

I was lucky enough to get a pass to see Hanna last Tuesday before it officially opened, and even luckier that the film’s teenage star, Saoirse Ronan, was there (in Brooklyn, in fact!) to answer questions after the movie. Saoirse, who is probably best known for her roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones, was being considered for the hugely coveted role of Katniss in The Hunger Games but now the cat’s out of the bag that Jennifer Lawrence was has been cast. She’s basically unrecognizable in Hanna with her eyebrows bleached. The scenes in which she stars in with Jessica Barden – who’s a teen soap star in England – are so spot-on for real teenage interaction that they’re hilarious and heartbreaking. I was really lovin’ this movie, especially the soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers, and really… with Eric Bana, how can a film go wrong? Anyway, my point in this post is that even though the film is an action thriller, it contains some of the most genuine teen dialog I’ve seen in any recent movies. And Saoirse is fantastic, both in the movie and in person. She raved about getting to go see Lady Gaga in Berlin for her 16th birthday, spent on the set of Hanna. She artfully dodged questions from the audience intended to start a discussion about too much violence in movies and the recent tendency to put guns in the hands of young female characters by insisting that Hanna’s just a character and the impact of the violence in the movie is offset by her innocence.  As a writer, I frequently struggle with wondering how much frank dialog about the kinds of things teenage girls really talk about might be offensive to some readers to put down in words, and how much violence is just too much to include. The last thing most artists want is to inspire negativity in their audience. But I am of the belief that honesty and presenting violence in a way that emphasizes its brutality in a way that might function as a deterrent is OK.

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