Contemporary World Cinema

Hannah

Andrea Pallaoro

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Charlotte Rampling stars in this intimate portrait of a woman drifting between reality and denial when she is left alone to grapple with the consequences of her husband's imprisonment.

With his second feature, Andrea Pallaoro already displays a distinctive feel for what to show and what to conceal. In a film full of unresolved questions and motivations, he keeps us constantly wondering about what has happened. For, although it is set rigorously in the present, Hannah is about the past, a past that remains largely ambiguous even as it drives the behaviour of everyone in the film.

If you are not intrigued already, you will be won over by Charlotte Rampling's sensitive portrait of a woman at the centre of a shattering tale. (Rampling also appears at this year's Festival in Euphoria.) Hannah has a son, a grandson, and a husband who is in prison. She is involved in a theatre group — voice lessons and rehearsals punctuate the film — and works a day job as a cleaning lady for a well-to-do household. Yet Hannah has an air that suggests she is not working class. Her son certainly isn't. So what is her story? Pallaoro leaves us hints and pieces of information (like the sight of a whale that has beached itself for no apparent reason) with which to construct a narrative.

What is clear is that some major event has upended the lives of these characters, pushing some of them apart and bringing others together. The point is not the mystery but the aftermath, which Pallaoro depicts with grace and devastating power.

PIERS HANDLING

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