HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS
The spirit of John Cassavetes hovers over this indie exercise, right before turning over in its grave. If Kicking and Screaming left you kicking and screaming, this same-vein story of twenty-somethings trying to define their lives will leave you just sort of sitting there. I guess that's an improvement.
Marlon Brando and Robert Altman get channeled, too, in the dialogue delivery, which strives for a real-world feel. The difference is that Brando's mumbling and Altman's multiple speakers were focused and used at appropriate spots. You can admire the effort and obvious serious thought put into this low-budget indie feature from Chicago director-producer-editor and HD video cinematographer Joe Swanberg (part of a young group of filmmakers who with self-conscious irony have labeled their work “mumblecore” to give it the appearance of an actual style or aesthetic), but it really does feel like a very good student film rather than a professional piece.
Hannah (Greta Gerwig), a pretty, short-haired platinum blonde you just know is trouble, interns at a production company and spends the summer hooking up and breaking up with guys who include two work-mates (Andrew Bujalski, Kent Osborne). Not much else happens in this talk-heavy film that makes one appreciate the narrative strength of Eric Rohmer all the more, to name another filmmaker reliant on the poetry of dialogue. There are a couple of would-be funny sex scenes, a plot with the amorphous edges of an amoeba, and a valiant if dull attempt at capturing the aimless future-hope and present tenseness of young lives just out of college and in the real world. If these are the future doctors, teachers and politicos we have waiting for us, we can only hope they grow up in a decade or so.
Gerwig actually gives her insufferable character some verve—the actress has potential—but the remainder of the movie is a slice of life that doesn't much show much life.
Portrait of a struggling, stubborn folksinger in 1961 New York is a Coen Brothers triumph, and one of the year’s best films. More »
» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.
ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.
Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.