HANNAH (Italy/France/Belgium 2017) ***
Directed by Andrea Pallaoro
Charlotte Rampling plays HANNAH. HANNAH is a Charlotte Rampling vehicle. If you do not like her, this is a film definitely to avoid. Rampling is in every scene of the film and she is heavily relied on to make this movie. In her hey day, Rampling was one of the highest paid European stars. She was young and beautiful and starred in sexy films like films like THE NIGHT PORTER, and blockbusters like ORCA THE KILLER WHALE. She finally won an Academy Award nomination for 45 YEARS a few years back after playing sexually frustrated character roles as in UNDER THE SAND and SWIMMING POOL.
When the film opens, HANNAH is accompanying her husband (Andre Wilms) to what appease to be a prison. Her husband is to be imprisoned for reasons unexplained and Hannah has to deal with it. The film is an intimate portrait of a woman drifting between reality and denial when she is left alone to grapple with the consequences of her husband's imprisonment. Besides the fact, other thins are not going all for Hannah. Her dog is not eating, her son does not want to see her any more and prevents her from seeing her grandson, for again reasons unexplained. The only solace is her emlyerm which she works for as a cleaning lady. She appears to be kind, giving Hannah her old clothes that she no longer can wear that are still attractive. Hannah must cope. Hannah breaks down and cries in the bathroom on day. This is pretty much the film. Not much story, not much plot, not much explained n terms of reasons things occur to Hannah. To director Pallaoro, those explanations are unimportant even though one might argue that they are to make the story more believable and to have the audience therefor care for for Hannah.
Director Pallaoro shows that Hannah is not the only person in the world having difficulties. On Hannah is riding the metro one day, she witnesses a young black lady in the same train screaming at an unseen passenger how she has had it and cannot take it anymore. She bangs the train doors and finally exits the trains while Hannah is clearly disturbed by the incident.
A film that runs on similar lines as Hannah and one that demands comparison is Chantal Akerman’s JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLS which detailed its heroine Jeanne Dielman leading a hums drum life that eventually leads to her suicide in the film’s shock ending. Akerman’s film was 3 hours long, repeatedly showing Dielman performing identical household chores. While this sounds boring, it is not, especially when the film ending with a shocking suicide. Pallaoro’s film, however does not work as well. Akrman understands her character whereas Pallaoro does not seem to know what to do with HANNAH. Despite Rampling’s riveting performance, though fans of hers have seen her in roles like this, HANNAH is a hard watch and will be a definite bore to many. HANNAH is a depressing film involving a character that can never seem to redeem herself as everything else around her is going wrong. Do we need to watch a film like this?
The film is shot in French. Rampling is English educated in France.