Directed by Daniel Nettheim
With strong visuals, performances, and an intriguing story, poor writing and lack of payoff makes The Hunter nothing more than a wasted opportunity.
Though the cinematography may be wonderful and Willem Dafoe delivers yet another strong performance, I can't help but to feel these two elements are all this film has to offer. As a purely visual experience, this movie is quite an achievement, which is largely due to the beautiful Tasmanian setting in which the story takes place. The story which is being told, on the other hand, makes little-to-no sense whatsoever. Wonderful visuals and a few capable performances can only do so much to help bolster a film if it doesn't have a proper script to elevate it above the levels of mediocrity.
So many questions were left unanswered. 15 minutes from the end of the film it had me wondering, "how is this all going to turn out?". The answer, to put it simply, is it doesn't turn out at all. We are given virtually no resolution. No understanding of the motivation, morality, or necessity of anything that has happened. It were as if the movie were written by a dozen different people who had their own thoughts on how the film should end, and were forced to compromise by not giving it any of those endings. In order for drama to be effective, we must be given a reason to care. In order for actions to be understood or justified, there must be motive. The drama doesn't work, the story doesn't work, and in the end we're left with nothing but a beautiful, mysterious shell of a movie, with the potential to be much more than it really was.
It's not as if the movie was boring, it just never bothered to tie together its loose ends. Subjects you expect to be further developed are never explored as the story progresses, all leading up to one of the biggest anti-climaxes of the year. The film never bothers to build any emotional connection between the characters, but by the end we're supposed to care about them. But how can we when we have absolutely no reason to? The story had potential, the acting was perfectly adequate, and the visuals were quite wonderful. All they needed was a decent screenplay. What a pity.
But despite the extreme lack of payoff and pathetic attempts at emotional exploitation, I was still entertained and intrigued throughout most of the film's running time. Had they re-cut and re-written the last 15-20 minutes, this could have been a pretty good movie. But they didn't, so it wasn't.