July 1, 2012

Filthy Review - The Hunter

The Hunter (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

The 1990 movie Wild at Heart is one movie that has left a permanent mark on me, for many reasons. One in particular was the performance of Willem Defoe; it was an outrageous character portrayal, and since then he has continued to give us a rich array of performances. With The Hunter, which is released by Magnolia Home Entertainment, he gives another outstanding performance, although this time it is far more understated but no less compelling.

Defoe is Martin David, the hunter of the title, or more specifically a mercenary, who is paid by a European company to go to Tasmania in search of a virtually extinct tiger. The company want the creature’s genetic material and Martin thinks nothing more of it; it’s a job and he is paid well to do it.

Upon arriving Down Under, Martin finds himself staying with a slightly dysfunctional family; the father is nowhere to be found, the kids are left to their own devices and the mother seems to sleep all of the time. It’s not the perfect set-up, and Martin does try to find alternative accommodation. It is soon quite apparent though that martin is not wanted, and the locals make no bones about telling him so.

One seemingly friendly face is Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), who does offer to be Martin’s guide in the wilderness, even if martin does not want his help. So, between trips out in the wilds of Tasmania, Martin finds himself drawn to the family he is staying with, whilst at the same time trying to focus on the job at hand. However, something is not quite right about the entire set-up, and the film slowly unravels to reveal the bigger picture.

First off, The Hunter is absolutely stunning to watch. The beautiful vistas of Tasmania are incredible and are only enhanced by watching the movie in high definition. The constantly changing weather, from sunshine to rain, and even snow, just make this a truly wonderful viewing experience. So, when you add in a rather unique story into the mix, it all makes totally compelling viewing. That being said, the film is based on a novel, so there are times when it feels as though something is missing from the story. It is a slow burn and it does take its time for anything really substantial to happen.

We do get treated though to another exceptional performance from Defoe. He is one actor that can express everything purely through his expressions rather than using too much dialogue. It’s understated, but no less powerful, especially towards the latter stages of the movie, which is ironic as the final twenty minutes of the film is probably the weakest area of the film.

Alongside Defoe there is another solid performance from Sam Neill, complete with a rich Australian accent. His role is definitely one of the more interesting characters on display, with more layers revealed as the film moves forward.

The other performances of note, which are a joy to watch, are that of the family which Martin stays with. Frances O’Connor, as Lucy (the mother), and the roles of the two children add a real human element to this environmentally aware movie.

The Hunter isn’t perfect, and the pacing and content may be lost on some viewers, but it is nevertheless a wonderfully subtle movie. Gorgeous to look at, with great performances, help to make the slow burning The Hunter a worthwhile viewing experience.

The Hunter is released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 3rd from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

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