Sunday, 29 June 2014

Hannibal Rising (2007)

"What is left in you to love?"

Why does this film fail? Well, firstly, it isn't very good, being slow and boring with an uncharismatic lead actor. But I think it's partly the European setting; my British sensibilities rather like the exotic American settings we've come to expect from Hannibal films. Darkly lit Black Forest locations don't really cut it.

It's disappointing to see Hannibal given an origin in Second World War Lithuania; a banal, Middle American upbringing would have been much more interesting. Just because he's a serial killer doesn't mean he should get a tragic background. And I may detect a smidgeon of that tired old American trope that Europe, the continent I live in, is full of Godless moral deviants and it's best to get away from all that for a new start in America. The character of Lecter is lessened by his dramatic European origin as presented here.

Anyway, the tragic scenes from Hannibal's childhood play out; I assume, from his name, his Lithuanian origins and his family's posh living arrangements before the Soviets arrive that he's a Baltic German by origin. I suppose it's interesting that the castle used as an orphanage is in fact posh boy Hannibal's family home; that must stick in his craw as much as the constant bullying.

Eventually he travels to France and a strange Japanese lady friend of the family, travelling by map (a Muppets in-joke there...), from whom he learns martial arts. He feels affection for her, of sorts; his first murder (in broad daylight!) is inflicted on a man  who sexually harasses her.

There are elements here that will continue throughout his life; the murder was committed because of the victim's discourtesy, and Hannibal has the first of many long cat and mouse games with a suspicious detective, in this case Dominic West's French inspector.

Then it's back to Kaunas to avenge his family's deaths, but the film still hasn't really caught fire in any way. The deaths are boring, even with the added feature of Hannibal's first bit of cannibalism. 

His pursuit of his family's killers continues throughout the film, with Hannibal risking the guillotine as the inspector is on to him; they have a discussion about vigilantism vs. the law which is almost interesting.

The film is desperately, desperately slow, but mercifully it ultimately nears its vague and unsatisfactory climax as Hannibal rescues his Japanese surrogate mother and is rejected by her as she realises what he is. The end is not really satisfying, but it's so good to find that the film is finally over.

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