Thursday, 12 July 2012

the hunter (d. daniel nettheim, w. alice addison, wain fimeri)

This is a tragic movie. It's tragic because the lovely heroine gets fried and no-one seems to care. It's tragic because the last living Tasmanian Tiger is killed off. It's also tragic because a great actor, Willem Dafoe, stomps around the movie in a pale imitation of his role in Antichrist, looking as though he's just about past it. Like sportsmen and ballet dancers, one suspects there must come a moment in the actor's life when he realises he's past the prime of manhood and his dignity would be better served by an appreciation of this. One thinks of Dick Diver cocking up his Cote D'Azur water-skiing stunt in Tender is the Night. A great man humbled is a tragic thing to see, and Dafoe ends up looking faintly ridiculous as he runs around to no great effect, still rugged, but bearing the first hints of the geriatric he will one day become, as must we all. (It's another example of Eastwood's innate sassiness that he recognised the need to pastiche his image, thereby subverting the ridicule which might have come his way as he aged.) 

Does The Hunter warrant Defoe's exertions? No doubt he had fun learning how to skin a possum and clumping around in the wonderful Tasmanian wilderness, but there must have been a nagging doubt in his mind as he saw which way the script was going. There's some neat ideas which are never developed in any detail (His relationship with the children; the missing Tiger itself.) But too much of the film is spent with Dafoe, the hunter, driving back and forth in his four by four, always one step behind just about everyone. The plot, with its loggers and eco-warriors, gets lost in the peat bogs, and there's plenty of cute detail which doesn't seem to serve any real purpose (Speakers in trees, Dafoe's love of opera, the kid's drawings etc). In the end, there are too many ingredients. The script feels as though it's been recycled so many times it doesn't know if it's one green bottle or a pair of pyjamas. 

Having said all this, if you like sweeping nature shots and Tasmanian devils, then this film is for you.

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