Willem Dafoe heads to Tasmania in this enjoyable if not entirely effective drama
A classical music-loving mercenary (Willem Dafoe) is hired by a shady biotech company to carry out a hit in Australia. His target is to secure the DNA of the presumed extinct Tasmanian Tiger. Posing as an academic researcher, he lodges at the ramshackle rural home of a hippy mother Lucy (Frances O’Connor), whose two young children roam free and whose own zoologist husband disappeared the previous year while seeking to track down the elusive tiger.
Adapted from the first novel of Julia Leigh (who also directed recent release Sleeping Beauty), The Hunter boasts some spectacular widescreen cinematography of brooding Tasmanian landscapes, and it’s certainly enjoyable to watch the beanie-hatted, craggy-faced Dafoe set animal traps with his bare hands. However, director Daniel Nettheim and scriptwriter Alice Addison struggle to integrate the various sub-plots, including the conflict between loggers and environmental activists and Lucy’s miraculous recovery from long-term depression. Strip away the exotic locale, and you have yet another tale of an emotionally cut-off male loner spending time around kids and becoming a better person, while, given the leisurely narrative build-up, the film’s climax feels disappointingly rushed.
Selected release from Fri 6 Jul.