Hannibal Rising


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Hannibal Rising

What turned Hannibal Lecter into a cannibal? When he was a lad, he watched his little sister being eaten. Does that figure? No.

Despite being made by the director of Girl With A Pearl Earring, this prequel of The Silence Of The Lambs is nasty, without being frightening. All the foreigners – everyone, in other words – speaks English. The baddies overact at the highest level of manufactured rage, as though they wish they were in panto, where, at least, there are jokes. Only the ever-wondrous Gong Li, playing Hannibal’s auntie-by-marriage, has any dignity, but what in heaven’s name - heaven has no part in this film - is she doing here?

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Essentially, this is a Western. Redskins massacre white family in homestead. Sole survivor grows up with vengeance in his heart. He tracks down the killers and dispatches them one by one, except this sicko has to torture them first. And eat their cheeks.

As a boy, Hannibal is a charmer. He and his family – mum and dad look as thoughnthey should be living in Hampshire – find themselves, or rather their house in the forest, slap bang in the path of the advancing Red Army, who make a lot of noise and kill the grown ups. After they leave, Hannibal and his baby sister are alone in mid-winter. Then the looters and renegades, who don’t belong to any army and have terrible table manners, move in.

Although the little girl is eaten, Hannibal survives and ends up at uni in France, learning to be a doc. All the bad guys end up in France, too, and become rich. This is highly implausible, but anyway… Auntie comes from Hiroshima – will Hollywood please stop using Chinese actors for Japanese parts – and obviously was out of town when The Bomb dropped. Hannibal stays in her chateau and they have a relationship, although, due to her age and his weirdness, sex is apparently off the menu.

Gaspard Ulliel plays Hannibal. He must be Jonathan (Match Point) Rhys Meyers’ French twin. The similarity is spooky - more spooky than the film. There is nothing wrong with his performance, except it is all on one level - calm, cold, steely – displaying none of the wit and style of Anthony Hopkins’ later incarnation. The audience is supposed to sympathise, as endless slo-mo flashbacks of the little girl being taken out and murdered imply.

Because you know what is going to happen, although not how (disgusting), there is no tension. You have to scowl and bear it, as the teenage psychopath does horrible things to living people. He is shot in the back from close range by the renegade leader (Rhys Ifans) and appears to shrug it off like a mosquito bite. Perhaps he’s a vampire. Perhaps he’ll live forever.

Who’s for pudding?

Reviewed on: 06 Feb 2007
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The most infamous gastronomic serial killer's early years.
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Chris **

Director: Peter Webber

Writer: Thomas Harris, based on the novel by Thomas Harris

Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys Ifans, Li Gong, Dominic West, Kevin McKidd, Aaron Thomas, Helena Lia Tachovska, Richard Brake, Toby Alexander, Veronika Bellová, Beata Ben Ammar

Year: 2007

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France/UK/US


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