Tag: The Hunter
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O’Connor, Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock
THERE has been a shift in cinema of late, with the usual one-way street of Aussie thespians flowing to Hollywood being turned on its head. International actors are now taking leading roles in Aussie films. Last year, English actor Matthew Goode starred in Burning Man and American actor Josh Lucas took on the lead role in Red Dog. For The Hunter, Willem Dafoe and Frances O’Connor travelled Down Under to star in a film with a fascinating premise.
Martin David (Dafoe) is an obsessively neat hunter used to life’s luxuries. When he is hired by a mysterious biotech company to hunt down the last Tasmanian Tiger, though, he’s met with a stark culture shock in rural Tasmania. Under the guise of a university researcher, Martin is billeted with a small family in a house that has no power, no privacy and an absence of other superficial niceties.
When Martin first arrives, local man-in-the-know Jack Mindy (Neill) insists on acting as a guide for Martin’s initial fake research trip; but it doesn’t take long for Martin’s presence to upset the locals who believe he’s an environmentalist hell bent on disrupting their jobs as loggers. To further complicate matters, as Martin tries to complete his hunting task in secret, it becomes increasingly harder to know who he can trust.
The most enticing facet of The Hunter is the way that it handles the simple yet compelling premise. Instead of having a film that’s essentially a man-versus-beast tale set in the wilderness, most of Martin’s necessary soul searching happens as a result of Dafoe’s interaction with the small family. The two children (Davies and Woodlock) are the most interesting of the family, especially next to their near-comatose mother (O’Connor) who doesn’t have a whole lot to work with at the beginning of the film.
While some of the subplots of the film aren’t as interesting as others, the conclusion of Martin’s core plight—whether a man is willing to kill the last of a species—is incredibly well handled in a satisfying and haunting way. It’s just a shame that the respective conclusions of other character’s narratives aren’t as gratifying as the hunter’s.
The beautiful Tasmanian landscape makes for an enchanting backdrop in a slow-burn drama that’s well worth the watch. Between The Hunter, Red Dog and Burning Man, 2011 was a great year for theatrical releases that show that Australian films are well and truly capable of contending with big budget Hollywood productions.
The Hunter is available for purchase on Blu-ray and DVD from 8 February, 2012.
Review: Nathan Lawrence