An ex-con night-guard struggles to control his actions after a disastrous event takes those who he holds dearest away from him.
There seems to be a trend when a film is as dull and lifeless as this, that the need to essentially describe the events in intimate detail forms the basis for every single review out there. The Hunter portrays itself as a ‘taut thriller’ that is ‘striking’, ‘cool’ and someone somewhere has probably called it a ‘Tour De Force’, much like every bloody film released nowadays. I guess the problem here is that so very little happens, simply one sentence would describe the entire film – hence why I’ve had to write my own description, which in actual fact has made it sound way more exciting than it actually was. I should have written, “A man doesn’t speak for an entire film and about 3 things happen“.
It didn’t thrill. No visual emotion, no soundtrack, no suspense. I just didn’t get it. I know of some people who love this minimalist type of film; much like the above average “To Kill A Man” which relies on silence, realism and authenticity to achieve it’s intended thrill, The Hunter tries to execute similar themes. The difference being that To Kill A Man at least had a shred of emotion in it, some dialogue, and an uncomfortable atmosphere was created – fundamentally, the audience had something to invest in.
In hindsight, perhaps this was its intention, to create a film that was grim, cold and devoid of any real shred of emotion that the acts themselves simply exist on their own without explanation. A central character who barely spoke, police who just followed orders and victims who were just that, victims. The cinematography reflected this, with long drawn out visions of nothing by misty foreign landscapes, static shots of our main character going about his day from afar. It was interesting to watch, to say it kept me hooked would be an overstatement but I remained intrigued throughout. Far from thrilling, but strangely compelling.
Set in Iran, the political undertones were lost on me, with segments of the political campaigns played out over TV & Radio completely unexplored, at least not explicitly. I’m familiar with the election that took place after the film was shot, but its significance to the film was too ambiguous and vague for me to pick up on. The roles of our main characters, perhaps literal metaphors for the conflict taking place in the country at the time, but the wider connection not bold enough for me to see.
To its credit, and as is often the case with films this slow, the 88 minutes of film flew by. Plodding along at a snails pace, brought to a close by a bold and sudden ending that leaves more questions than answers. A common theme throughout the film; a lack of answers. It’s loose plot and lack of description, the withholding of information, leaves us as viewers to imagine the majority of the goings outside of what is presented on-screen. Again, maybe the lack of information was deliberate, but there comes a point where the parallels for political and cultural metaphors start to encroach on the experience of the film.
The Hunter had every opportunity to create a deep, meaningful and suspenseful film, but instead opted for abstract minimalism which results in a draining and often tedious experience, that somehow still managed to keep my interest. I’ll openly admit I didn’t get it fully, and I enjoy films of this nature, but as the old saying goes; “one mans dull, minimal and slow thriller is another mans art-house tour de force in subtle political revenge“.