proud Taswegian, you might think I’d be naturally biased towards giving
‘The Hunter’ a high score. It’s hard to resist the excitement of seeing
your home state on the big screen, or watching stars like Willem Dafoe
and Sam Neill shedding light on locales and themes that are as familiar
to you as the house you grew up in.
important for a reviewer, a responsible one, to get some distance from
that initial excitement. Doing so, for me, has made me see this film for
what it truly is: A great little tale, albeit with some flaws.
Dafoe plays Martin David, a kind of eco-mercenary whose goal it is to
find, kill and obtain samples from the mythical Tasmanian Tiger. His
backers direct him to the home of local woman Lucy (Frances O‘Connor)
who believes him to be a researcher with an overseas university. But
upon arriving at his lodgings, David finds Lucy in a drug-induced stupor
and the house run on the whims of her two children, Sass (Morgana
Davies) and Bike (Finn Woodlock.) Local personality Jack Mindy (Sam
Neill) guides David to the area where he is to begin his search, but on
the way he has to cross through areas controlled by Forestry workers and
Greenies, who are locked in a dispute over logging.
course of his search, the hard-nosed David becomes more and more
entangled in the lives of Lucy and the children, and realises that his
obsession might not be worth the ultimate cost.
Dafoe shines in the more human moments of the story, but he also puts in
a terrific performance as the lone hunter. A lot of his scenes take
place in isolation, with no other actors to work with; it’s these
moments, when what’s really called for is a haunted look into the trees,
or a sign of angst, that Dafoe reveals himself to be a true master of
Unfortunately, Sam Neill is under-utilised as the conflicted and
confused Jack Mindy. His sub-plot, involving prescription drugs and an
obsession with Lucy, is fractured, and ultimately peters out. It’s one
of those story arcs that you can see working well in the novel, but it
hasn’t translated at all well to the big screen.
question of whether or not David finds the tiger is essential in keeping
us engaged- everything builds towards the resolution of that question,
making for some genuine suspense.
we’re kept on tenterhooks for too long: There are too many transitional
scenes, in which David drives from the bush back to Lucy’s house, or
vice versa. Right when you feel like the action is picking up, you’re
wrenched away from the scene, and it hurts the pace of the story. Even
at 101 minutes, the movie feels long.
is incredibly beautiful to watch. In a very short space of time, the
filmmakers have been able to capture the essence of a place; the people,
the conflicts, and the environment, which is almost another character in
scenery depicted in the Hunter is truly stunning, with some majestic
shots of local landmarks and wilderness. The blue, grey and green colour
palette perfectly captures the wild, inhospitable, darkly beautiful
nature of the setting. The picture quality is very clean, but there is
an ever-so-slight graininess, reminiscent of fog, which only heightens
the image of a wild and cold place.
soundtrack is eerily sparse. When it does pick up, it combines moving
string arrangements with ghostly bells and percussion, perfectly suiting
what’s happening on screen.
Audio Commentary by Director Daniel
Nettheim and Producer Vincent Sheehan
Making of: We are treated to an
in-depth look at each of the characters, as well as the locations
and the legend of the tiger itself.
Deleted scenes: You can choose to watch
these with their original audio, but you’ll probably get more out of
them by watching them with commentary, which explains their place in
the story an why they were dropped.
Portrait galleries: These are
accompanied by various tracks from the film’s soundtrack.
Madman Propaganda: Some assorted Madman
Atom study guide: A guide for teachers,
which can only be viewed on a BD-ROM drive.
be Tasmanian if I didn’t feel a little bit proud about this movie and
its subject matter. It does have some flaws, but I can still recommend
this to anyone who enjoys a good, solid drama, no matter where you come