@Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 15 Mar 2019

Andrea Pallaoro’s slow, methodical and moving character-study, Hannah has been lauded at the various film festivals at which it has appeared over the last few years, with a Best Actress win in 2017 at the Venice Film Festival for Charlotte Rampling’s portrayal of the eponymous character. It’s easy to see why; as her performance is wonderful and combined with Chayse Irvin’s cinematography, makes for a deeply hypnotising affair. Unfortunately, looking past these triumphs it’s hard to see that there is much else to the film.

Following the titular Hannah as she attempts to go about her daily life in the wake of her husband’s imprisonment for an unspecified crime, the film excellently portrays the character’s denial while simultaneously eliciting sympathy for a woman in distress. All of this is a result of Rampling’s incredible performance which is both subtle yet powerful. Much of the film is silent, but thanks to her it is a deafening silence with the audience hanging on every action. Of course, it is hard for this not to be the case when almost every shot places the character at the forefront in some way, meaning that everything else is peripheral.

Rampling’s performance, along with the film’s framing and the gorgeous visuals captured by Irvin creates a strong feeling of intricacy throughout the entire film, which helps to highlight Hannah’s denial and the isolation that she is enduring as a result of her husband’s crimes. This denial is key to the entire affair, and the eventual revelation at the denouement is, along with Hannah’s reaction, absolutely heartbreaking to watch as the audience has become so familiar with this woman who is just trying to live a normal life.

At the same time, these strengths also become the film’s greatest weakness. Hannah is about as arthouse as a film can get, with the sheer lack of information provided to the audience approaching the line of infuriating at times.  Moreover, one quickly comes to realise that it is quite a shallow film and that frankly there isn’t actually that much going on, and if it wasn’t for Rampling the film would most likely fail. Thankfully, Rampling is such a delight that it certainly makes up for everything else.