Hanna is your stereotypical business student: smartly dressed, hugely ambitious, career plan mapped out and willing to do whatever it takes. It turns out that “what it takes” to get the job she is after is to show a willingness to be involved with people in need, to volunteer. Not having anything like that on her CV so far, Hanna is hoping her mother would help her out.
Now mother and daughter couldn’t really be more different and don’t have a good relationship at all. Where Hanna is thoroughly 21st century, her mother appears to be stuck somewhere in the 1970s. Where Hanna is career minded, her mother works for a charity that organises volunteer work in Israel.
Needless to say, her mother refuses to give to Hanna a paper saying she’d volunteered with them but instead sends her off to Israel for a few weeks to work at a home for people with disabilities. On one level, the story is somewhat predictable. Confronted with situations and people that she doesn’t really know how to cope with, Hanna re-evaluates a lot of her values and the choices she has made in life. She also discovers things about her mother’s background that help her understand her better.
What makes the film special, though, is that all the characters are multi-faceted. It would have been very easy to portray them as stereotypes: the ambitious German who wants to leave history behind; the slightly cynical Israeli; the Holocaust survivor. And yet it never does that. Just like in real life, the characters are more complex and complicated then that and you feel like you are just beginning to understand a little bit more of the situation in Israel and how it affects ordinary people and their lives.
The film is full of moments that make you laugh, some that make you cry and lots to think about.
And yes, there is a love story as well 🙂