‘Hannah Ha Ha’ Review: Making Ends Meet

The directors Jordan Tetewsky and Joshua Pikovsky offer a warm examination of what it means to do meaningful work in a world that undervalues it.

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By Claire Shaffer

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The aimlessness of young adulthood is well-trodden ground in the world of indie cinema, but few movies offer the nuanced, lived-in portrayal seen in “Hannah Ha Ha.” The film follows the day-to-day life of Hannah (an illuminating Hannah Lee Thompson), a 25-year-old in small-town Massachusetts. She engages in odd jobs around the area, farming vegetables and teaching guitar lessons, while living with her aging father, Avram (Avram Tetewsky). Under the pressure of her rise-and-grind yuppie older brother, Paul (Roger Mancusi), who reminds her she’ll be booted off Dad’s health insurance on her impending 26th birthday, Hannah attempts to find herself a “real job,” first in the jargon-fueled tech world her brother occupies and then, after that fails, the service industry.

Jordan Tetewsky and Joshua Pikovsky, the filmmaking duo who wrote and directed the movie, are natives of the semirural townships southwest of Boston, and their familiarity with the region and its people is what makes “Hannah Ha Ha” transcend — or, in many cases, take full advantage of — its shoestring budget. Like Hannah herself, the film views the world through a soft-focus lens. It lingers on scenes of friendship and community that have little to do with being on the clock: people at bonfires, in a mom-and-pop creamery, going on weekend bike rides through the woods. During a smoke break at her mind-numbing fast-food night shift, Hannah gazes across the parking lot and quietly observes the characters, mundane or not, who have chosen to pull their cars into the strip mall that evening.

The past few years have led many to question their relationship to employment, and why being a kind and caring member of one’s community isn’t enough to make a living wage. As Hannah struggles to answer that question herself, she regularly listens to the voice of her uncle (Peter Cole), a radio D.J. who hosts a call-in show popular with local misanthropes. It’s unclear whether his listenership stretches much further than that. But to a chosen few, his work is essential.

Hannah Ha Ha
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on most major platforms.

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