Tag Archives: eric bana

Mary and Max (2009)

“When I was young, I invented an invisible friend called Mr Ravioli. My psychiatrist says I don’t need him anymore, so he just sits in the corner and reads.”

Cast: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana

Mary and Max

Mary Daisy Dinkle is a lonely 8 year old girl living in Australia. She has no friends, comes from a broken home and is often teased at school for a birthmark on her forehead. One day she decides to write to a random person from the phone
directory and by pure chance, chooses Max Jerry Horowitz. Max is a 44 year old obese man who lives in New York. He suffers with severe mental problems that have left him without many close friends of his own.

After the exchange of a few letters an unlikely friendship is struck up between the two, and so the story follows their letters back and forth over a period of 20 years.

Mary and Max, hands down, has to be one of the best claymation films I have ever seen. I also
never really expected a film like this to leave such a lasting impression on me, but it has.

As a dark comedy, Mary and Max is such a step away from these glossy, generic animations pouring out of Hollywood that it makes you sit up and take notice. What we have here isn’t a cliched piece of work, but something that feels original, personal and innovative. Rather than going for the biggest audience possible, the story has stuck to some of its more heavy plot lines and kept true to its roots. Whether than means sacrificing some of its potential audience, never mind, as it secures the film as one above the rest.

The first wonderful feature you will notice about the film is that it is narrated (by Barry Humphries). It gives the film a beautiful ‘storybook’ feel and really suits its nature. It must be noted though, that just because Mary and Max is an animation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s aimed at a young audience. The film surprisingly tackles issues ranging from depression to
alcoholism and in my eyes, could be classed as more of an adult’s film. However, the scenes in which these heavier things happen aren’t too traumatising and with a nice narrater giving us the low down, it distracts from some of the heavier topics.

The film is also wonderfully funny. With Philip Seymour Hoffman as the voice of Max, we get a great delivery of Max’s lines, which are accompanied by a strong New York accent, very suited to his burly figure. This bumbling, naive man is a real treasure and having him struggle throughout life with a mental illness is really heartbreaking. However it does ensure a sense of innocence follows, which is perhaps why he connects with Mary so well.

Bethany Whitmore voices a young Mary and it just fits superbly with the character. Managing to get to the core of Mary, Whitmore really understands the young, troubled girl and gives a wonderful performance. Toni Collette and Eric Bana play smaller roles yet they are as equally as impressive as the bigger ones; this cast has been well thought out and it shows.

Mary and Max is a brilliant adaptation of a true story. Told through claymation, it has to be one of the most endearing stories and is voiced by some great people. I can’t recommend this film enough.

Star rating:  8.5/10

Directed by Adam Elliot.

Running time 92 minutes.

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Hanna (2011)

“I just missed your heart.”

Cast:  Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana

Hanna

Wow. I had no idea what this film was about before I went to see it, but it blew me away.

Growing up in an isolated and desolate Finland, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana), who spends his time training her as an assassin.

As she is quickly reintroduced into a busy and populated world, one that is very different to the remote place she has known all her life, Hanna is tracked by CIA agents who have been recruited to kill her. We don’t find out why until later in the film, and the withholding of this information really had me gripped.

The whole film is built on suspense and action, which I loved. There are also elements of humour making the film more accessible and humanly, primarily when Hanna meets a family that look after her for a while. With Hanna not having had any human contact her whole life apart from her father, she is intrigued yet cautious when opening up to the family, yet is pleased to have made her first ever friend in Sophie (a hilarious Jessica Barden).

The other great thing about the film was the score, which was at the hands of The Chemical Brothers. Though you wouldn’t think that such a techno, house-band could be so successfully involved in the action, thriller type genre, the music fit surprisingly well and worked perfectly in building tension.

Although I haven’t seen Saoirse Ronan in any films before, she starred in Atonement in 2007 which is another of Joe Wright’s films, and she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance. She is a brilliant actress and at just 17 she has so much potential, a big career ahead for her I think. As Hanna she really manages to capture this ‘lost girl’ persona and is entrancing in all of her scenes, she had my full attention. She fits perfectly in the role.

Cate Blanchett plays Marissa, the head of the whole CIA operation. Ruthless and wanting one thing only, she seems set on killing Hanna and Erik by whatever means necessary. Blanchett portrays this cold, hard agent with great success. Having no real sense of humanity but concise with details and results, now the opportunity to fulfil her mission has presented itself she is focused and ready, though not without caution. Bana was ok as Erik but I feel like he didn’t give as strong of a performance as some other actors. He was often up showed by Ronan and Blanchett, though the film mainly focused on Hanna so the camera didn’t dwell too much on him. He was good in action scenes and ok in others, but there was no sense of intrigue or charisma behind his character.

The cinematography throughout was great at showing us the world through Hanna’s eyes. We discover this new and obscure place with her and the editing ensures we share all the feelings of hesitancy, wonder and happiness together. The scenery is fantastic and varied, from vast deserts to stark snowy mountains, we see wonderful sweeping shots that really bring a sense of awe and beauty to the film.

The flaws in the film are minimal – some scenes could have been edited better, Bana could have been sharper – but these bumps are well surpassed by all of the other elements to the film. Hanna is a film that hasn’t had much buzz or publicity, well not anything I have been a witness to, but will be one that will hopefully gain audiences by word of mouth. It’s a modest film, yet this only works to exceed expectations that you may carry. A truly gripping and entertaining story, you should definitely check it out.

Star rating:  8.5/10

Directed by Joe Wright.

Running time 111 minutes.