Willem Dafoe’s THE HUNTER - On DemandMarch 21, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE HUNTER (Magnolia) .
With his stern mien and almost-feral eyes, Willem Dafoe has always conveyed a coiled-spring ferocity that he employs to make compelling and unpredictable choices on screen. Whether he’s working on popcorn flicks such as SPIDER-MAN and SPEED 2, or appearing in more refined fare like TOM & VIV and BASQUIAT, Dafoe never phones it in, infusing every part he plays with a single-minded intensity. In Daniel Nettheim’s new film, THE HUNTER, Dafoe puts his hot-wired charisma to good use as Martin David, a mercenary on assignment to track down one of the last Tasmanian tigers in existence.
Decamped to the Tasmanian outback, the solitary David bunks in the home of a woman and her two children. Lucy (Frances O’Connor, A.I.) is bedridden and depressed following the disappearance of her husband in the bush. Lucy’s kids, a loquacious girl and her silent brother, are sprites of the woods, caring for their mom without electricity or clean water. David’s arrival has far-reaching effects on Lucy and family, not all of them positive. His mission makes him the target of local loggers, who see his hunt as an encroachment on their territory. David is also viewed with suspicion by Jack (Sam Neill, JURASSIC PARK), who looks out for Lucy but has his own interests to protect.
Nettheim tells the story of David’s pursuit with an economy that befits such a spare tale. Robert Humphreys’ cinematography captures the sweeping vistas of the Tasmanian wilderness that reinforce the solitary aspect of David’s pursuit of the spectre-like beast and the script, by Alice Addison and Wain Fimeri, is concise and has a terseness that amps up the tension between Dafoe’s interloper and the leery locals.
The performances in THE HUNTER are uniformly excellent. As the slow-to-bloom Lucy, Frances O’Connor is earthily beautiful, and her slow dance of attraction to Dafoe is a pleasure to behold. Old pro Neill is solid as ever as a good fellow who knows David is treading where he shouldn’t.
Man vs. wild has long been existential fodder for filmmakers and THE HUNTER follows in the footsteps of such beastly pursuit films as THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS and THE BEAR. Thanks to an intelligent script and a riveting performance from Dafoe, THE HUNTER excels in depicting the humanity behind the pursuer.
Track it down now on demand.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for THE HUNTER (Magnolia) on demand.
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