Hanna examines the nation’s corrupt system that prevents smart, underprivileged kids in overcrowded schools from attaining their dreams / reaching their full potential. It’s a system that encourages the easy way out; intelligent students resort to selling drugs as opposed to exceeding in class and being subjected to ridicule. Both the director and her screenwriter do an admirable job paying tribute to the trials and tribulations of Walden’s tumultuous campaign.
“…imbues her character with enough off-kilter mannerisms to make her unusual and compelling.”
They are greatly aided by the cast. Modine, sporting a David Lynch hairdo, has a blast as a golf-loving, thick-skinned, sardonic but well-meaning politician (do those exist?). “You might just be formidable,” he tells Virginia. And she is. Uzo Aduba dials back on the ticks she’s so well-known for, yet imbues her character with enough off-kilter mannerisms to make her unusual and compelling. She is nervous before giving speeches, yet does so frequently, steadily gaining momentum the less she adheres to the script.
To reiterate: there’s certainly no lack of speechifying. “This is America,” a character proclaims. “This is the land of opportunity. And there’s no opportunity if there is no education.” Amen. There’s little room for ambiguity in Miss America, everything painted in broad strokes of black and white (or is it red and blue?). As a heartfelt ode to an important historical figure, it works just fine. Just don’t expect the film to mirror Virginia’s success, come award season.
"…As a heartfelt tribute to an important historical figure, it works just fine."