CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2011

The Hunter

The Hunter

Synopsis

Could the supposedly extinct Tasmanian tiger still be out there? Willem Dafoe investigates. Australian drama based on the novel by Julia Leigh (writer-director of Sleeping Beauty)

About

In this nicely handled slice of Australian drama from TV veteran Daniel Nettheim, Willem Dafoe plays Martin David, a mercenary sent by some shady conglomerate sorts to track down a rare beastie in the Tasmanian back of beyond. The Tasmanian tiger (or Thylacinus cynocephalus, named from the Greek for "dog-headed pouched one") was supposedly hunted to extinction in the 20th century - but sightings are still reported. (Not that this necessarily means all that much, given the number of sightings reported of Bigfoot, UFOs and Princess Diana).

It's still a relatively unusual premise for a film, and allows for some spectacular on location shooting by cinematographer Robert Humphreys, showcasing both flora and fauna, although it's the fauna in which the film is notionally interested.

Martin David is reasonable company, which is lucky, because we spend a lot of time with him. He listens to classical music while examining his arsenal of weaponry, which, as we all know, is character shorthand for cultured-but-badass. He also wears manly vests and knows how to gut small furry creatures without any Bear Grylls style showboating. Essentially, he's a quiet, stoical fellow in more or less the David Attenborough vein except he does a lot more killing.

Apart from Willem Dafoe himself, The Hunter's greatest asset is its tight control of mood and atmosphere, created and sustained by top notch technique across the board. Canny musical choices deserve a special mention, with one scene containing probably the most atmospheric use of Bruce Springsteen in a film released in 2012, juxtaposed at other moments with more trad fare including Baïlèro from Songs Of The Auvergne and a rousing burst of Bach's Gloria chorus.

The resolution of the Tasmanian tiger mystery itself is neither pure MacGuffin nor the dime on which the whole film turns - the piece has broader, perhaps more allegorical concerns, giving the elusive tiger odd common ground with the white whale of that more famous epic beast-quest, Moby Dick. And the moment when Dafoe's hunter discovers the viability of his quest is as moving as anything in the film.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jacek Koman, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Sullivan Stapleton

In a nutshell

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise, in the form of an elegant genre-hopper coming on like Werner Herzog meets Michael Crighton.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Babadook

    The Babadook

    Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) finds caring for her wayward child Samuel (Noah Wiseman) a tall order. But shes more or less coping until a scary picture book about the mysterious Babadook starts to haunt this single parent family

  • Film4 This Is Where I Leave You

    This Is Where I Leave You

    Shortly after discovering his wifes infidelity, Judd (Jason Bateman) learns of the death of his father. Forced to return to his childhood home to spend a week with his mother, four siblings and his extended family, Judd tries to take stock of his life.

  • Film4 Beasts of the Southern Wild

    Beasts Of The Southern Wild on Film4

    Quvenzhané Wallis stars in an Oscar-nominated role as the six year-old Hushpuppy in Benh Zeitlin's magical realist drama on Film4

  • Film4 Killer Joe

    Killer Joe on Film4

    Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple star in William Friedkin's noir thriller on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Rent now on Film4od

Available to rent for £2.99

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share