It's hard to accuse Swanberg of sentimentality when he casts his actors' forms in such harsh light. Coming of age is more often conveyed with exuberance than pale flesh, yet in this the director is resolute (and the nudity is refreshingly egalitarian). I was taken with Bujalski's soulful rendering of threadbare living quarters in Mutual Appreciation, but Swanberg's unsparing lens cuts closer to the bone.
Needless to say, then, that Hannah Takes the Stairs isn't eager to indulge its characters, and it certainly doesn't present them with convenient outs. Swanberg's warts-and-all approach may not be for everyone, but it's an important redress of Knocked Up's mismatched fantasy. These kids are all right, even when they're not. *
HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS
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Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight, SF