Over the weekend, I caught the movie Hanna with some offspring. It was the kind of movie I like, in that it had some interesting stuff in it, but really was a complete mess and made absolutely no sense, so I can take the thoughts it stimulated and use them somewhere.
There isn't much to give away about the movie. Hanna is a teenager being raised somewhere above the Arctic Circle by her father, and taught to kill reindeer and fight with her bare hands. The rest of her knowledge of the world comes from a McGuffey's Reader-like one-volume encyclopedia. Supposedly this is going to make her able to defend herself in the vicious world outside.
For no good reason, it does. Father and daughter go off separately, and kill many people. They kill as many people as the supposedly bad character, acted by Cate Blanchett purely with her cheekbones, does, and with as little concern for their humanity. Hanna treats the helpful people she encounters out in the world purely instrumentally, and abandons them to the violent fate they get for helping her out. Both father and daughter are soulless, emotionless automatons, with no visible goals.
Still, we follow them, particularly her, because the movie is beautiful and fun to watch, and the action scenes genuinely suspenseful.
At one point Hanna encounters a quirky family of ex-hippie parents, sardonic and sophisticated teenage daughter, and warmly sensitive son. The actors are brilliant, their personalities are vivid, and the movie promises to take off and break through the "targets in a shooting gallery" dynamic with which such movies treat regular people (that is, us)--until it totally feeps out and doesn't.
It was as if the screenwriters discovered humanity by accident, were on the verge of creating meaningful art, and freaked out. It's genuinely odd, but in that oddness is my stimulus. What is it like to be the human who encounters the martial-arts-trained obsessive who treats me as a disposable piece of stage scenery?
Somewhere in there is an interesting story.