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On this page: HANNAH | 1:54
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last update 12.Sep.17
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dir Andrea Pallaoro
scr Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado
prd Clement Duboin, John Engel, Andrea Stucovitz
with Charlotte Rampling, Andre Wilms, Stephanie Van Vyve, Jean-Michel Balthazar, Simon Bisschop, Fatou Traore, Luca Avallone
rampling release WP Sep.17 vff
17/Belgium 1h35

venice film festival
Hannah With barely any plot development or dialog, this film is essentially a cold exercise in watching a person deal with the collapse of her family. Fortunately, she's played by Charlotte Rampling, an actress who rivets the audience even when she's just watching something happen off-screen. Which she does a lot in this movie. But in her eyes, the emotions of the situation are very real, even if we never quite understand why.

Hannah (Rampling) quietly goes about her everyday life, cleaning and tidying the flat she shares silently with her husband (Wilms), then going with him as he begins a prison sentence. He claims that he's innocent, but their son has severed all contact with both of them. Now alone at home with his pining dog Flynn, Hannah carries on as before, working as a housemaid by day and attending acting classes at night. But is there any hope for the future if she's not even allowed to celebrate her grandson's birthday?

This entire film has been designed around Rampling's minimalistic acting style, but there's nothing here that helps the viewer understand what's happening to her or within her mind. We can see her thinking, reacting, and quietly continuing to go about her mundane daily tasks, and Rampling is so amazing in the role that we can even anticipate things she might be thinking about, even if nothing in the script lets us in on it.

The result of all of this is that every scene in the movie feels random. Not one person's behaviour has any motivation, there's no back-story, only the whiff of a hint that something very bad has happened. Some people, like her son, hold Hannah equally as responsible as her husband for whatever it is, and yet she's not in prison too. Her gym membership is abruptly cancelled for no expressed reason. The dog goes on hunger strike. Artfully shot and edited, these pieces never make sense beyond Hannah's attempts to control her reactions.

And of course Rampling is mesmerising as a woman grappling with the implications of whatever it is that upended her life. As an exploration of the aftermath of a tragedy, the film certainly has merit. And watching Rampling reveal Hannah's emotions is simply stunning, from tiny flickers of a smile to a gut-churning sob. Her performance makes this worth a look, but only for audiences who don't mind slow-moving films that deliberately leave the audience outside the story.

15 themes, language, nudity
8.Sep.17 vff

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dir-scr Yan England
prd Diane England, Denise Robert
with Antoine Olivier Pilon, Lou-Pascal Tremblay, Sophie Nelisse, Patrice Godin, David Boutin, Robert Naylor, Guillaume Gauthier, Anthony Therrien, Hudson Leblanc
nelisse and pilon release US Oct.16 ciff,
UK Mar.17 flare
16/Canada 1h46

flare film festival
1:54 There's a driving momentum to this dark drama that makes it difficult to watch. But the acting and filmmaking are compelling, holding the attention with vivid emotions and topical resonance. This is a story about bullying that refuses to play out the way we hope it will, pushing its characters in increasingly painful directions. It's somewhat overwrought, but also important.

Tim (Pilon) is a 16-year-old outcast at school, hanging out on the fringes with his pal Francis (Naylor), who is openly gay and mercilessly bullied by Jeff (Tremblay). Tim is also gay, but can't bring himself to admit it to Francis or to his sensitive single dad (Boutin). Enraged at Jeff's actions, Tim signs up for the track team with the aim of cracking Jeff's goal of finishing the 800m in 1:54. Jeff responds by blackmailing Tim with a video clip. And their coach (Godin) doesn't know why there's so much tension between them.

Tim's dad, his friend Jen (Nelisse), the coach and other school officials are all aware that something nasty is afoot, but Tim is too frightened to explain the situation to anyone. This leads to a series of harrowing events that are devastating in their impact. Filmmaker England kind of rushes past them, leaving the fallout to echo in the air rather than taking the time to grapple with it, but the point is made with real force.

Pilon anchors the film with a wrenchingly open performance as a young guy who is afraid of everything, from his own desires to everyone around him. It's agonisingly clear that he needs someone he can talk to, but his self-imposed isolation only makes things worse. As the two adults in his life, Boutin and Godin are realistic, compassionate and unable to properly help him. And Tremblay gives a ripping, brave turn as a shallow guy who doesn't care about the repercussions of his actions.

There are some niggling inconsistencies in the plot that remind the audience that we're watching a movie with a message, but the point is so strong that we go along with it. Emotions are raw and vivid, and there are also moments of earthy humour and hopefulness to balance the story's bleak edges. In the end, the film will hopefully encourage people to be more aware of what's happening to the people around them, and more willing to seek out someone trustworthy.

15 themes, language, violence, sexuality

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