This review was originally published as part of our Filmfest München coverage on 3/7/2018.
Andrea Pallaoro’s second feature Hannah portrays a woman on a precipice, struggling with the crimes her husband has committed and the choices she has made. First and foremost, it is a showcase for Charlotte Rampling in the titular role, earning her a well deserved win at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
Set in an unnamed Belgian city, the film begins with her dropping her husband off in prison, though the reason why he is being incarcerated remains unclear at first. Without him, the titular Hannah faces the emptiness of her days, filled with few routines save for work and her amateur theatre group. The oppressive nature of her loneliness is portrayed both in Rampling’s impressive acting, as well as the directorial choices: there is no soundtrack other than what Hannah herself hears; meanwhile greys and muted colours, and closeups on her gradually more worn-out features, dominate.
Her husband’s acts, later revealed to be connected to child pornography, perhaps even pedophilia, haunt Hannah, who has chosen to stand by him, as she loses her friends, and even the relationship with her adult son. The façade crumbles only after she is turned away from her grandson’s birthday party. When she finally realises that her husband has indeed committed the crimes he is accused of, it seems like she might break, veering towards a climax which ultimately never arrives.
The dialogue is sparse as Hannah, on whom the focus remains throughout the 95 minutes of screentime, rarely interacts with others; the pacing is, at times, almost unbearably slow, apt for displaying a misery which is similarly unbearable.
And yet, the film’s stripped-down minimalism, paired with the subtle cinematography of Chayse Irvin, working on 35mm film, creates the perfect vehicle for Rampling’s formidable craft.
CAST: Charlotte Rampling, André Wilms
DIRECTOR: Andrea Pallaoro
WRITERS: Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado
SYNOPSIS: An 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.