THE HUNTER (Dir. Daniel Nettheim, 2011, Australia)
Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil in The Hunter
Firstly, this film should not be confused with
Rafi Pitts The Hunter - the only real thing they share in common is a title.
Starring Willem Dafoe in the lead role and based on Julia Leigh’s acclaimed
novel, The Hunter is director Daniel Nettheim’s second film. Although the film
doesn’t really hold together, a notable thematic interest to do with the
extinction of wildlife and erosion of nature complements what is largely an
understated directorial approach. The film rests on the shoulders of Dafoe who
plays a mercenary sent by a European company to kill the last remaining
Tasmanian Tiger so that they can use the animal for more sinister bio weaponry.
Dafoe never fails to impress as an actor and what he plays best is the
existential loner as is the case with the character of Martin, a methodical and
enigmatic hunter who ultimately questions his role in the corporate machine
that is depicted as grotesquely pathological. Martin’s presence in the enclosed
community produces hostility from the indigenous people who view him as an
outsider with a threatening agenda. What doesn’t chime well with the
uncertainty and ambivalence expressed by Martin’s behaviour through most of the
film is the misjudged final sequence. Not only does this final embrace between
Martin and the orphaned boy seem a little far fetched, it makes for a garishly
sentimental moment. Nevertheless, the magnificent cinematography and solid
performances on display prevents The Hunter from becoming swallowed up by what
is a disjointed and languid narrative.