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A scene from Hannah Arendt.

2 out of 4 stars

Hannah Arendt
Directed by
Margarethe von Trotta
Barbara Sukowa

Margarethe von Trotta's never lacked for ambition and if ambition were the sole or major criterion to judge an auteur's output then her latest, Hannah Arendt, would receive top marks. Unfortunately, this attempt to put "thought into film" - the thought here being that of the legendary German-American political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) - is a decidedly stilted affair. It's long on important talk, gravitas and big ideas - but short on dramatic energy. The film focuses on Arendt's attendance in Jerusalem at the 1961 trial of Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann and the controversial articles and book she published afterward. Barbara Sukowa, whom von Trotta cast a quarter-century ago as Rosa Luxemburg, plays the tough-minded Arendt but she doesn't so much inhabit the part as present an accumulation of tics - Hannah looking, variously, pensive, distressed, ruminative, anxious and determined, usually behind a veil of cigarette smoke.

Sept. 11, 6 p.m., Elgin; Sept. 13, 11 a.m., Elgin; Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m., Yonge & Dundas

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