The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Hunter | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - The Hunter

Directed by: Daniel Nettheim
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Morgana Davies, Frances O'Connor

Posing as a scientist sent to Tasmania to investigate the existence of the last Tasmanian tiger, Dafoe is actually a mercenary on an assignment to hunt it down for a dubious security firm.
It's ironic that Australia's most well known film-maker is Baz Luhrmann as his overblown theatrical style is in stark conflict to the subtlety and ambiguity favored by the majority of his compatriots. Luhrmann aside, Australians seem incapable of making bad films. Nettheim's debut is quintessentially Antipodean, dealing as it does with the conflict between man and nature. In the same way that even the most atheistic of Europeans suffer a subconscious form of Catholic guilt, Australians seem haunted by a sense of not belonging to their adopted environment, at least if their films are to be believed.
Dafoe starts out as a clinical and calm professional but upon arrival in the stunning environment of Tasmania his cold exterior begins to fade and he starts to question his motivations. He has been arranged to board with O'Connor, a frail woman who lives with her two young children and has been numbed by medication ever since her husband disappeared. As Dafoe gets closer to the three he realises the patriarch's disappearance was no coincidence and he may be about to suffer the same fate.
Sam Neill gives a great low key performance as a would be suitor of O'Connor who may or may not be trustworthy. Dafoe is aging like a good cheese and this is his best turn since 1992's "Light Sleeper". It's the stunning yet foreboding landscape of Tasmania which is the real star though. Nettheim shoots it like a haunted house, half-glimpsed movements in bushes and crackling twigs lending an air of unseen menace.
The movie is based on a novel by Julia Leigh who wrote and directed the highly impressive "Sleeping Beauty" but it's essentially a remake of "The Third Man" with Dafoe as Joseph Cotten, O'Connor as Alida Valli and a Tasmanian Devil as Orson Welles. Like Leigh, Nettheim has proved with his debut that he's a film-maker of some promise.
7/10
The Hunter (2011) on IMDb 6.8/10

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