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I just watched Hanna (2011). At a couple of points during the film, the agent Marissa is seen brushing her teeth until they bleed.

Is there a purpose to these scenes? They seemed to be focused on, more than I would expect. The only notable reference I found online is this review, stating:

Her habit of flossing her gums bloody will weird out viewers clever enough to figure out why she does it.

So it seems there is more to it. What am I missing?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

My take on the situation is she has an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). As explained in Wikipedia, this disorder shows in a lot of different ways. One such:

The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic.

Agent Marisa displays both of these traits in the movie. Also, she is very fastidious in everything she does (overly clean and particular). I don't think she is full blown OCD (if you read the Wiki article, you'll see what I mean), but she does show many of the symptoms. Considering the flossing behavior is over the top to you and me and she does this more than once, it might be considered this type of behavior. I am sure there are other things in the film which point to this as well, but not popping into my head at the moment.

The reason these scenes are important is because it develops the character to show you she has problems with things she has done in the past, whether or not she realizes it.

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This is a good answer. I would add that it is a device used by screenwriters to give the viewer a lot of information in a very short amount of time. We are able to extrapolate a lot from her actions, the same way when we watched the dude in 'Predator' dry shaving in the helicopter with a bic razor, pressing until it snapped in half. Using a small action, we know that he is a BADASS. –  Nobby Dec 10 '13 at 13:39
    
@Nobby ... Very good point! –  Paulster2 Dec 10 '13 at 14:36
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Yes, it does show she has problems with her past and feels guilty.

Plus, you might add it's also a fairy tale: she's the Bad Wolf, compulsively cleaning her teeth of her preys' blood, which only makes them bloodier (see the final scene when they literally run "into the wolf's jaws", and Hanna turns the tables on her and hunts her down).

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