Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tanner Hall: Movie Review


The misadventures of four forgettable and unrelatable teenage girls.

Tanner Hall is one of those all-girl boarding schools set in the old, countryside serenity of New England. It’s probably prestigious (since rich girls go there too), and literally gated. Locked on the inside and out – which seems not only inappropriate but not feasible either since somehow pizza delivery boys can get in. “Tanner Hall” is a teenage girl movie, and of course, our four main girls find no end of trouble in their small school. 2009 (2012 DVD Release)

Directed by: Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg

Screenplay by: Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg

Starring: Rooney Mara

A main indicator for how good (or how poor) a movie is, is how well they can reach their target audience. Despite competent casting directors, set directors, and cinematographers, “Tanner Hall” is just way too slow to really engage their youthful audience. We are slowly introduced to Fernanda (Rooney Mara), Victoria (Georgia King), Kate (Brie Larson) and Lucasta (Amy Ferguson). And then with poorly thought out drama (and no comedy) we venture forth as they struggle with coming of age.

Victoria is a trouble-maker, but one misplaced early scene ruined any chance for a strong moment of empathy for her character. Kate is a sexually adventurous trouble-maker and the one with the best chance for intrigue and suspense but she was only the third main character. Fernanda is supposed to be a good girl but then she falls into temptation with an older man. Lucasta, the fourth-billed, was struggling to figure out what kind of girl she was, wanting to understand what she was attracted to and what was attractive about her. Clearly, this is the most sympathetic character and the one that every girl could relate to in one way or another. But instead, the writers and directors made us spend most of our time with Fernanda whose extracurricular activities were not only immoral but illegal too and completely unrelatable to the normal school-age girl.

The grown-up, slowly maturing, adult version of me couldn’t connect with any of the girls and found it awfully hard to sit through. The teenage girl version of me would have been able to connect to one of the girls, but it wouldn’t really be worth my time.

Don’t bother seeking out “Tanner Hall”. Just because Rooney Mara is now famous, and an Oscar nominee, doesn’t mean we need to start releasing her earlier, forgettable work.

Recommended:

Tamara Drewe (2010) - An irreverent British comedy of affairs and teenage girls getting into mischief.