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Hannah review - Rampling's restrained passion burns bright | reviews, news & interviews

Hannah review - Rampling's restrained passion burns bright

Hannah review - Rampling's restrained passion burns bright

Slow-burning minimalism with an emotional punch

Charlotte Rampling as Hannah

Hannah is a vehicle for Charlotte Rampling, and it's no wonder she won the Best Actress Award for her role at Venice in 2018.  The film follows her as she gradually falls to pieces, without a trace of hysteria, slowly and surely, with her husband in prison for reasons that are never clear.

Hannah works as a maid in a wealthy household, where she shows tenderness to a slightly disturbed child. She goes to an acting workshop that mirrors, in a strange way, her own increasing alienation, rather than nourishing her soul. There is a leak from the apartment above which she has to deal with. Her dog, who was deeply attached to the now imprisoned husband pines for him at the door and is eventually taken away by a father and his daughter. She makes a birthday cake for her grandson, but is turned away when she tries to deliver it by a son with whom she has fallen out. The absence of an obvious outer narrative and the focus on Hannah’s inner turmoil and desperation gives the prosaic a force and mystery that are at times quite startling and feel, paradoxically, more authentic.

This is a film that doesn’t attempt to seduce in the conventional way, but lures you instead with a pace that at first feels languid, but that reveals its power as the episodic moments in the intimate company of Hannah follow each other with a logic that draws strength from mystery rather than explicit narrative. We are immersed into Hannah’s increasing desperation by stealth: there are lengthy shots without any movement at all. I may be wrong but I think the first serious camera movement, a slow almost imperceptible tracking shot, appears 30 minutes in. The framing is often counter-intuitive, with Hannah on the edge of frame, in reflection or in back view. The director allows us – or rather forces us – to focus on Charlotte Rampling’s lined face, eyes that express an almost unbearably sadness. The minimalism of Pallaoro’s approach creates, as the film progresses, incredibly intense emotion rather than the coldness that his apparent formalism might require.

The relentless gloom and hopeless isolation of the central character avoids pathos or sentimentality – the formal elegance of the film makes sure of that. Instead, the film builds towards an emotional climax that is in fact not a climax at all, but an experience of deep empathy with the character brought to life by Rampling, and an understanding that is anything but intellectual of the aloneness that growing old inevitably entails.

This is a film that doesn’t attempt to seduce in the conventional way


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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