Starring Rooney Mara, Georgia King and Brie Larson
Written & Directed by Francesca Gregorini & Tatiana Von Furstenberg
With the movie gods busy at the multiplex showing off their award hopeful wares, the couch dweller is left to contemplate and catch up on some recent releases that they might have missed. In the holiday onslaught of new releases that hit video stores across Toronto it is actually quite easy to lose track of some small little films that got overwhelmed by the blockbuster releases. Out recently from our friends at Anchor Bay Films on DVD & Blu-Ray is one such film featuring the star of one of the more high profile films of the year. It’s time to go to “Tanner Hall”.
“Tanner Hall” introduces us to Fernanda (Mara) as she enters her senior year at Tanner Hall; a sheltered boarding school in New England; she’s faced with unexpected changes in her group of friends when a childhood acquaintance, the charismatic yet manipulative trouble-maker Victoria (King) appears, shy and studious, Fernanda is usually the voice of reason among her friends but when she begins a complicated friendship with Gio, an older family friend, she decides it’s finally time to take some risks.
Despite some interesting moments and performances along with some stunning cinematography work; “Tanner Hall” was actually a little stale more often than not. The writer/director duo of Gregorini and Von Furstenburg hit some territory in their first film that honestly been done to death and brought nothing new to the table with their portrayal of a plaid skirt wearing life in an all girls boarding school and the storytelling hit every point in every boarding school film ever told without fail. As storytellers they’ll need to add the occasional wrinkle into the story in order to make it as filmmakers, a decent start to their careers but they will need to do better.
What managed to raise this film slightly above TV movie of the week fair were some strong performances. Made in 2009 the filmmakers knew that Rooney Mara would be a star as this was early proof that she ultimately has the chops to carry a film and as the good girl Fernanda learning a hard life lesson she delivered a strong performance, the undoubtedly lead to her getting a key role in ‘The Social Network’ and the lead for ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ in theatres now. Georgia King as the manipulative and manic Victoria was highly memorable as she reenters Fernanda’s life with tumultuous results. Brie Larson and Amy Ferguson rounded out the ensemble cast of the 4 girls developing into women inside the walls of an isolated boarding school.
At the end of the day, the cast of “Tanner Hall” over performed the material that they were given. Still an interesting film given the gorgeous photography and the quality performances from the cast, but the duo of Gregorini and Von Furstenburg will need to come with something a little more compelling on their next time out.
3 out of 5 stars.
“Tanner Hall” is available at video stores across Toronto; click here for a list of video stores near you.
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