The Hunter - DVD Review

'tense and gripping, the final part pulls the viewer towards a stunning conclusion which satisfactorily makes its point'

Rafi Pitts has spoken many times in the last few weeks about the circumstances surrounding his decision to star in his own film. Pitts seems eager to point out that the choice was not one of hubris but came rather out of necessity. Faced with a lead actor 'unfit' to fulfil the role and tight Iranian filming laws which would delay the shoot should a new cast member be required, Pitts stepped in to the breach. He needn't have worried.

A first time actor, Pitts has presence in front of the camera. Brooding and isolated, he paints a picture of a man despairing of the world he lives in. An ex-con in a dead end job, his character Ali gets joy from hunting in the woods and spending time with his young family.

Whilst many synopses go further than this (including IMDb's own) to do so would be to spoil the direction the film takes. Equally though, it's understandable to see more expansive descriptions because The Hunter is a film where nothing much happens until the half way point where Ali, finding events conspiring against him, takes a dramatic choice.

This choice leads to the film's final third. Magnificently set up in a foggy scene involving some fantastic camera shots by cinematographer Mohammad Davudi, the tone and dynamic of Pitts' film completely changes. Tense and gripping, the final part pulls the viewer towards a stunning conclusion which satisfactorily makes its point in a calm and collected way which recalls the claustrophobia and gently, gently horror of some of the more obvious single location thrillers available.

The problem is everything that goes before. Whilst Pitts might have presence he's also incredibly one-dimensional. Ashen-faced no matter what the situation, he hardly proves magnetic in segments which require a whole bunch of nothing to happen beyond mundane relationship development. The Hunter finds itself with the age old problem of needing to establish relationships which are crucial for its ace-in-the-hole finale but not having any great or interesting way of doing it. Near silent scenes at Ali's place of work are monotonous, the obligatory trip to the funfair with his family, unimaginative.

As a piece of political expression, The Hunter functions well but it does so in the dourest way possible, dutifully lecturing where it should be wilfully inspiring.

Look further...

'Pitts the director handles [the film] with enormous feeling for mood, while Pitts the thespian delivers a tour-de-force of near silent acting' - Lost In The Multiplex

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