Reader Rebuttal: Hanna (2011)
Forgive me if this email is self-indulgent, but I liked the movie Hanna more than I thought I would, and, although your review would probably be understood as positive, I wanted to defend the movie as having more to it than you seem to suggest.
First, let me agree that I think a stronger movie would have come up with an ending other than a face-off to the death between hero and villian. That said, I think Hanna is a movie that Joseph Campbell would have loved because of its mythology and its symbolism. Hanna is never simply innocent, never simply someone who doesn't know who she is. I think she is meant to represent childhood and the experience of growing up. At a certain level, at the deepest level, none of us know who we are at that age, and at that age that lack of knowledge is often felt more urgently than at any other time because the insight is new rather than familiar.
Moreover, all of us with any integrity have to confront the startling and ambiguous realization that we are abnormal because, after all, “normal” is not meaningful at the individual level. In other words, Hanna, the movie and the character, is appealing to the same experiences that makes the mutants of the X-men so identifiable. Those lost, abnormal people are us - maybe not quite all of us, but many of us. Hanna is more particularly a symbol for those from broken homes. It is almost too obvious to say that Marissa represents the wicked stepmother, but I tend to think that that representation is iconic rather than cliched, universal enough to be readily understandable rather than merely common. More particularly still, Hanna represents those from broken homes who have experienced tragedy in the shattering of that home. She is curious about, and even mesmerized by, a “normal” family in a way that is, again, readily identifiable because it is similar to the way that those from tragically broken homes simply are mesmerized by “happy” families.
Maybe all of this is too apparent to be worth mentioning or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe I'm reading too much into the movie, but all of this representation seems to work on several levels throughout the film, and, if that is right, then the screenwriters and director deserve credit for it.
For what little it may be worth, you are my favorite non-Ebert movie reviewer, and I enjoyed your review of Hanna even if it did inspire this apologetic. Good luck to you.