You are hereMagazines 1980-1989 / Hanna K.

Hanna K.



Color. 1983. Jill Clayburgh, Gabriel Byrne, Muhamad Bakri; oir. Costa-Gavras. 111" min. Beta, VHS. MCA ($59.95). Reproduction: B.

You can't fault Jill Clayburgh for her intentions, or Costa-Gavras. The two have been involved in a number of daring socially conscious films (An Unmarried Woman, Missing, Z) that have attempted to teach as well as entertain. But all their first collaboration teaches is how not to make a good movie. Hanna K., which could have been subtitled An Unmarried Woman in Israel, is muddled propaganda which pro-Israelis will think pro-Arab and everyone else will find boring.  

The film attempts to explore prejudice, telling the story of a young attorney, Hanna Kaufman (Clayburgh), searching for her spiritual identity in modern Jerusalem. The plot finds her defending an Israeli-born Arab who 15 trying to reclaim his birthright. The task proves £ormidable. "He was born here," she says. "He is not a citizen," is the reply. "We cannot grant citizenship to everyone who asks for it. It would make us a minority in our own country."

This is a noble idea, but poorly executed. Characters are points in a thesis, not people in a drama; the men are insensitive bigots and chauvinists, as easy to hate as they are hard to believe. Perfunctory performances (often unintelligible because of thick accents) and uninspired direction don't help. Director Costa-Gavras, who got so much out of the political thriller Z, here creates no tension, opting for a travelogue style blended, with all the worst elements of soap opera. Slow shots of Jerusalem are accompanied by dialogue as sharp as a spoon: "It has serene feeling. Ever so much has happened, yet it seems so serene."

The VHS transfer is adequate. Color is a little weak.