The Hunter review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
A rather surprising movie that deals with several of the world’s biggest and most controversial issues; the Hunter can truly only be described as an ecological thriller, telling the story of a mercenary who finds himself embroiled in the daily lives of a small Tasmanian community in the middle of their local wilderness.
At the behest of a mysterious and shady Red Leaf biotech company the mercenary, Martin (William DaFoe) is sent to Tasmania in search of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger, whose DNA has some supposedly mythical – and highly marketable – purposes. Upon arriving in the Tasmanian wilderness he takes up lodgings in the house of a zoologist who has been missing for some time, leaving his wife and children behind. In the coming months Martin finds himself warming to Lucy (Frances O’Connor) and her children, and begins to question the morals behind his chosen career.
A delicate subject that splits some sects of society, the themes of the Hunter are played out with constant tension and absolutely clear cut morals, the logging community are not portrayed in an sympathetic manner and the movie quickly gets to the point when it comes to its ethical stance; yet the characters and plot running below the surface of the movie are enough to captivate any audience member, regardless of political identity.
Based on a book by Sleeping Beauty’s Julia Leigh and directed by TV series connoisseur Daniel Nettheim, this is a quiet and unexpected movie that like the tiger sought within it stalks and threatens in a graceful and captivating fashion. The movie depicts the Tasmanian jungles as both beautiful and wild, with sweeping shots of the untamed darkness that were visually superb on the big screen, cinematically the film lures you into the deepest parts of the jungle before leaving you to search desperately through the intriguing narrative.
Dafoe completely envelops his character, bringing the mystery of the Tasmanian tiger and the missing zoologist to the forefront with a completeness that is totally captivating. A surprising casting choice at first Dafoe more than earns his keep by the start of act two and I genuinely feel that a more traditional casting of the action hero “mercenary” type role would have ruined this movie. The Hunter is not handled like an action movie, but with a depth and intrigue that only comes from true purveyors of the thriller genere. For those looking for something a little different, occasionally inflammatory and utterly riveting the Hunter is an absolutely perfect match.