Directors who star in their own movies can be a curse. Hitchcock avoided that with a clever,
quick cameo in each; Eastwood’s powerful presence acts as a strength rather
than a weakness whereas M. Night Shyamalan’s films grow worse as his screen
time increases. Iranian Rafi Pitts
proves, much like Ben Affleck, that he’s a
far more powerful force behind the camera than in front of it with the
bleak but well-paced The Hunter.
family man Ali (Pitts) discovers his
wife has been accidentally killed by Police during a political demonstration
and his daughter’s missing, he takes
revenge on the authorities, killing two policemen and fleeing into the
forest nearby. Though quickly found, the terrain, weather and confusion make
this no ordinary cat-and-mouse situation.
an assured control over his material – he wrote the screenplay too – Pitts
follows 2006’s equally bleak It’s Winter
with another stab at his country’s
perceived dispassionate nature. Whether it’s delivering the news of his wife’s
death, having no knowledge where Ali’s daughter might be or attending an identification
at a morgue, scenes which require empathy and warmth come off cold and detached by intention.
fine as the largely wordless, dour Ali,
Pitts’ lack of emotional register eventually betrays his motivation as he turns
from struggling ex-con and family man to cold, impassive killer; stalking
motorists and then policemen on the motorway from on high. Despite some key scenes between captive and captor in one of the
few conversational moments in the film, once Ali is found – albeit via an
excellent fog-infused car chase – there’s too little time and depth in Pitt’s
script to fully explore the immense
themes that enshroud these small characters lives. Why does no one care?
Why are the police themselves looking for a way out? It’s hard not to feel that
deeper exploration of the film’s second
act might have made for a more
satisfying film and conclusion.
as a slow-burning tale of a wronged man
doing wrong with some impressive cinematography, a well-suited Radiohead
track and a chance for Pitts to extend his reputation and skill in wider
circles, it’s certainly worth hunting