There is a certain joy inherent in watching professionals ply their trade. Be it the completion of a complex task or the creation of a work of art, the effortless execution of a seemingly impossible feat lends as much satisfaction to the audience as it does to the performer. To take a process and refine it to the point that it appears to be a single motion takes a kind of intensity and drive that most people will never possess. As such, the very transmutation of series of actions into single, fluid act of grace is something that is rare and worthy of attention.
You, Hanna, are a study in professional mastery as a bridge between process and art. A standard plot involving a CIA agent teaching his daughter to be the perfect killer for the purpose of taking out a shadowy superior becomes, through the seemingly effortless machinations of everyone involved in your creation, one of the best films of the year.
In fact, the only criticism of a negative nature that I could bring to bear against you would be the difficulty inherent in discussing what makes you so great. Most movies can be broken down into their constituent parts in order to methodically detail the things that work, and the things that do not. Like a rifle they can be stripped, cleaned and thoroughly inspected in pieces.
You, on the other hand, are like a finely crafted samurai sword – a single piece of shining metal created by forces and processes that are invisible yet integral parts of your final form.
Your actors commit fully to the emotional and physical realities of their characters. It is easy to imagine these people pulling off the stunts that they do in the film, and – while certainly at the high end of the spectrum of human endurance and power – nothing they do is outright impossible. These scenes of brutal and visceral action are enhanced by camerawork that shirks the standard modern template of shaking and fast cutting. The framing and composition of each shot is gorgeous, and the fluid movement of the camera accentuates the action without distracting from it. Especially noteworthy are your tracking shots, in which scenes of balletic combat are shown in a single take.
Music, too, plays a large yet unobtrusive part in your success. The pulsing, primal rhythms of your soundtrack meld perfectly with the action present on the screen. Each piece sounds like a corrupted lullaby, perfectly mirroring and complimenting the story you seek to tell.
So it is that you become what is without a doubt one of the most flawlessly crafted movie experiences I’ve had in quite some time. You are a story about professionals, acted to perfection by professionals, shot and directed by masters of pacing and visual poetry, and scored by masters of tone. Each piece of your whole is in harmony with the others, to the point that it is impossible to compliment or view just one portion without paying equal respect to the other aspects. Everything elevates everything else, creating a perpetual feedback loop of greatness.
Upon leaving you, I wanted to immediately turn around and experience you again. I wanted to revel in your music, your cinematography, your characters, and your action. I wanted to experience the thrill of watching something complex pulled off with seemingly effortless poise.
One of the first lines of dialogue in you is “I just missed your heart.” I can tell you with absolute certainty, Hanna, that you did not miss mine.
With respect, awe, and love,
Brian J. Roan