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Irish Actor Saoirse Ronan Soars as a Young Assassin

April 08, 2011

For at least a decade, the pop-culture landscape has been littered with the mascara-streaked corpses of ruined party girls and faux-chaste princess products. Yet the last few months have seen some new, most welcome arrivals kicking through the dust, fists clenched and wits sharpened—young women with true grit.

Oscar-nominees Winter’s Bone and True Grit were anchored by female characters permitted actual storylines and perspectives (really, Hollywood, it doesn’t take much). Perhaps the millennium’s most beloved, complex fictional figure is that girl with the dragon tattoo. Now comes the soul-sister heroine in Hanna, a pulsating, whip-smart action film from director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement).

In the film’s first minutes, 16-year-old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan, who also appeared in Atonement), wrapped in animal skins, downs an elk with an arrow, then rips through its guts with her hands. She’s a wild child living in a snow-covered house near the Arctic Circle, but she’s not quite feral: her father (Eric Bana) is there too, educating her in the ways of junior assassins. “Adapt or die,” he tells her, and they tussle with knives, guns and fists. Home-schooled to the hilt, Hanna speaks several languages; at night, the pair read by candlelight from an encyclopedia. Read More