Showing posts with label artificial eye film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artificial eye film. Show all posts

15 May 2015

Film Review - Clouds Of Sils Maria (2014)

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Curzon Film World
Release Date:
15th May 2015 (UK)
Rating: 15
Olivier Assayas
Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jo-Ann Ellis

Olivier Assayas writes and directs Clouds of Sils Maria, an ambitious character study examining the lines between fiction and reality, and the effects this plays on all involved. As well as an intricate narrative filled with compelling themes, Clouds of Sils Maria features career best performances from stars Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart.

Internationally acclaimed actress Maria Enders (Binoche) has been asked to star in a revival of Maloja Snake, the play (and later film) that made her a household name. However, Enders is not wanted to reprise her role of Sigrid (the young and suggestive woman who toys with her employer), but for the role of her vulnerable, manipulated employer that is ultimately driven to suicide, Helena. After reluctance Enders accepts the part and ventures to Switzerland with her assistant, Valentine (Stewart), where they rehearse the play - unaware that they both falling into the respective roles.

Assayas has crafted a complex piece that examines the blurring lines between prose and reality. Whilst Maria and Valentine rehearse they do not mirror the exact characteristics of Helena and Sigrid, but the relationship dynamic between the pair begins to imitate that from Maloja Snake. Lines of dialogue read between the pair fuse seamlessly with their real life conversation - with viewers having to adapt, questioning whether the pair are rehearsing or conversing. This becomes more relevant as the tension between the actress and assistant builds - and both adopt further traits of their fictional counterparts.

Assayas fascinatingly examines how the actor (or those involved with the acting process e.g. Valentine) is influenced by the process of the roles they play. We see Maria confront the concept of ageing head-on, by taking the role of the 'unloved' older woman, a role which she fictionally scorned herself in a prior adaptation. Maria now has a previously unseen sympathy for the role of Helena, since she has become the older actress working alongside current box office star Jo-Ann Ellis (taking on the role of Sigrid). There is also a playful satire on the concept of the star - particularly the young tabloid celebrity, with some of the film's most darkly amusing moments coming when Maria is swept up the media frenzy surrounding Jo-Ann. A particular highlight sees Maria googling the young star, horrified of the trashy tabloid smarm that she finds.

Clouds of Sils Maria is spearheaded by dramatically sound and subtly complex performances from the divine Juliette Binoche and the outstanding Kristen Stewart. Binoche is outstanding in her reflection of a woman concerned by regret and fear, one that is essentially longing for and resenting her lost youth. Stewart excels in her representation of an unheard youth, bringing a magnetism and charm to the fold as the headstrong assistant. Both actresses shine on screen together with the bond between the pair surpassing that of star and assistant, feeling authentic and dramatically well-pitched.

Praise should also go to the astounding visuals - with cinematographer Yorick Le Saux capturing the beauty and isolation of the enigmatic Swiss Alps setting.

Clouds of Sils Maria is ambitious, thoughtful, and performed with a heartfelt authenticity. Binoche and Stewart are simply magnificent here, whilst Assayas has crafted a compelling and gorgeously-pitched character piece.

Andrew McArthur

This review was originally posted on our main site at The Peoples Movies

23 August 2013

What Maisie Knew Review

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Onata Aprile, Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham , Alexander Skarsgard
Scott McGehee and David Siegel
23rd August 2013 (UK Cinema)
What Maisie Knew

Taking a classic piece of late-nineteenth century literature and adapting it in a contemporary fashion is a risky move that few filmmakers could convincingly pull off. However, Scott McGehee and David Siegel are two of the directors up to such a task as showcased in their delicately understated and truly touching adaption of Henry James's What Maisie Knew.

Maisie (Onata Aprile) is the child of pushy rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore) and distracted art-dealer Beale (Steve Coogan) - a couple who are in the middle of a bitter divorce. Maisie is pushed to-and-fro between her mother and new boyfriend Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard) and her father and his fiancé Margo (Joanna Vanderham), Maisie's former nanny.

Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright's delicate, slow-building screenplay captures the challenging effects that divorce can have on a child, especially those whose parents are so career-driven that their parenting style can only be described as negligent. Fiery performances from Moore and Coogan capture this at full force, but both actors display a welcome range in respective scenes which see them bond with Maisie. Doyne and Cartwright slowly build up the heart-wrenching emotional weight that this erratic behaviour has on Maisie, whilst also reflecting a truly warming kindness that she receives from initial outsiders, Lincoln and Margo. Maisie remains relatively contained, yet it is clear the weight and strain of the actions of those around her does begin to challenge the young child.

This is flawlessly showcased in one scene which sees Maisie's mother abandon her to go on tour. The young Maisie is temporarily taken in by strangers where we see the child's fear and heartbreak gradually break through in one understated shot where the young girl lets out a single stray tear. The scene is an agonising watch and represents the delicate directorial style of McGehee and Siegel, where a floodgate of gradual pain is masterfully showcased in one single tear.

Of course, the emotional impact of What Maisie Knew would be sorely less effective if not for young actress Onata Aprile. Aprile is a revelation - presenting a performance so authentically contained and controlled, yet packing such an emotional weight that it truly grounds the feature.

Whilst capturing the challenging nature of relationships, McGehee and Siegel also display the warmth and excitement of new romances through the ever-growing relationship between Lincoln and Margo. This is presented with such a natural tenderness and class that it is a challenge not to warmed - whilst must of this should also be credited to beautifully understated performances from Vanderham and Skarsgard.

What Maisie Knew's slow building screenplay packs a heart-wrenching emotional weight showcased through delicately understated direction and staggeringly authentic performances from Aprile, Vanderham, and their co-stars.


Andrew McArthur

This is a repost of Edinburgh film Festival Review

13 March 2013

Watch The UK Trailer For A Late Quartet Starring Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Our friends at Artificial Eye Films have sent us over the UK trailer and Poster for A Late Quartet starring Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener.

Directed by Yaron Zilberman, A Late Quartet tells the tale of an renowned New York based Quartet on the eve of their 25th Anniversary cellist Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken) announces he wants the upcoming season to be their last. Peter is diagnosed in early stages of Parkinson's disease leaving the the remain members egos to conflict and derail their friendship.

The film has been on the festival circuit since last years Toronto Film Festival  debut and to me the toughest challenge to any actor is playing in a film that's simple in structure but powerful in dramatics. A Late Quartet certainly has the drama and we look like we're in for a masterclass on how to act with the classic music brings a sense of tranquillity to the film too. Most of all after years of seeing him play a villain, tough guy, Christopher Walken does possess acting chops to be more dramatic, its ecstasy to the eyes!

A Late Quartet is due to be released in UK&Ireland on 5th April and co-stars Mark Ivanir and  Imogen Poots .


On the eve of a world renowned string quartet’s 25th anniversary season, their beloved cellist, Peter Mitchell (Christopher Walken), is diagnosed with the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. When Peter announces he wishes to make the upcoming season his last, his three colleagues find themselves at a crossroad. Competing egos and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration.

20 December 2012

The Weird and wonderful Holy Motors UK Home Release Coming January

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A stellar cast including Leos Carax, Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue, beautiful cinematography and extraordinary story combine to make the one and only Holy Motors. Having garnered Five Star reviews in The Guardian, Empire, The Telegraph, The Times, The Irish Times, Eye For Film and the New York Daily News, amongst others, during its hugely successful theatrical release, Holy Motors is the most dazzling, inventive and critically acclaimed film of the year comes to DVD and Blu-ray 28th January 2013.

Synopsis:Over the course of a single day, Monsieur Oscar travels by limousine around Paris to a series of nine “appointments,” transforming into a new character at each stop. Picked up in the morning by Céline, his trusty chauffeur, Oscar begins the day as a captain of industry before becoming a disabled, old gypsy woman begging for spare change on a bridge over the Seine.

Oscar’s seven proceeding incarnations call on what seem to be arbitrary locations throughout the day and night, including a video production facility, the Pere-Lachaide cemetery and a decaying Right Bank department store. With the aid of Céline and his dependable motor, Oscar encounters many bizarre situations and individuals, changing faces and never stopping once, until he fulfils his appointments.

A Palme d’Or nominee and winner of the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes Film Festival 2012, winner of the Gold Hugo for Best International Feature and Silver Hugos for Best Actor (Leo Carax) and Best Cinematography (Caroline Champetier and Yves Cape) at the Chicago International Film Festival and winner of the Best Director, Best Film and Critic’s Award at the Catalonian International Film Festival, Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors” is a heartfelt love letter to Cinema by one of today’s most visionary filmmakers.

Part horror movie, part noir-ish crime thriller; part romantic drama, part musical; part comedy, part sci-fi fantasy: it is a film that is almost as impossible to describe as it is to resist. All in all, it is essential viewing for everyone who enjoys the magic of the movies.

Pre-order: Holy Motors DVD / Blu-ray
Holy Motors will be yours to own on DVD, Blu-Ray from 28th January 2013.

19 December 2012

Watch The Official UK Trailer For Zaytoun Starring Stephen Dorff

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This boxing day one of the surprise hits of this year's London Film Festival Zaytoun will be released in UK&Ireland cinematically and the film's official UK trailer has arrived online.

Starring Stephen Dorff who plays a Israeli fighter pilot Yoni who finds himself a captive to a young Palestinian refugee boy in war torn Lebanon. Yoni forms a tentative bond with the boy Fahed (Abdallah El Akal) as the pair attempt to make their way home.

With the film set in Beirut 1982 there is an extra surge of tension with it been set 30 years ago despite the fact things in the Middle East sadly haven't changed much though you could say with the recent struggles things are a lot worse. The question is,the subject of a balance between entertainment and possibly your knowledge of the war or even what view you have on what's going on in that part of the world. I haven't seen the film so a lot of  what i'm reading up on the film is from previous articles, reviews and things like compassion between 2 people from areas that have grown up hating each other can bond together in order to survive. There is a big Waltz With Bashir feel to this film and it's a film which should spark some rather intriguing debate on how you see the whole Israeli / Middle East fiasco. It will  also be interesting to see as the film's director Eran Riklis an ex-Israeli military how balance or even imbalanced Zaytoun might be.On an acting front this film sounds like another piece of evidence proving Stephen Dorff does possess some good acting chops but why doesn't he make more of these movies and get the credit he deserves?

Zaytoun will be released by Artificial Eye films on 26 December and also stars Alice Taglioni, Ashraf Barhom.

29 October 2012

The Hunter Blu-Ray Review

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When it comes to films starring Willem Dafoe his performances are nothing more but mesmeric, outstanding even when the film he stars in is truly awful. The actor is one of films great gems who delivers wonderful performances that are deserving of awards but the true professional he is he doesn't complain just gets on with the job. Past 20 years or so Willem Dafoe has been making big noises in arthouse / world cinema and his latest film The Hunter the actor excels once again as a hired hand to find one of the world's rarest commodities whilst battling his own morality.

The Hunter is based on a novel by Julia Leigh that tells the story of Martin(Willem Dafoe) a mercenary sent from Europe to Australia by mysterious Biotech company.Martin heads to Tasmanian wilderness to embark on a dramatic hunt for the so called last Tasmanian Tiger despite the creature been reported extinct since 1982. As he searches the elusive creature he discovers the mysteries hidden within the wild landscape, triggering long forgotten emotions, but can a human who has led an immoral life find connection and redemption too?

What really grabs your attention in The Hunter is the central performance of Willem Dafoe. As I mentioned earlier in the review the actor rarely disappoints, he also rarely gets a chance to a lead a film and when he gets he grabs the bull by the horns delivering something truly fantastic. Martin is a charismatic emotionless man but when he's on his own especially in the wilderness he's in his element becoming part of the land, a predator, animalistic with frightening tenacity. When there's no dialogue you really do get drawn into something rather haunting,atmospheric gving you a chance to appreciate the surroundings he's in as well as his predatory skills.

We have to also give a mention to Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock who play the children at the farm Martin stays at, they deliver a performance so naturalistic as they are given a chance to be..children. They bring out the parental side of Martin as they adopt him as a father figure with their own father lost in the wilderness, this makes Martin feel awkward. Even the children's mother Lucy (Frances O'Connor) whose in a depressive state drugged up, constantly sleeping greets Martin's presence within her home she embraces him when he sorts out the power and when he becomes more comfortable it then his morality is questioned even his loneliness.

It's Films like The Hunter that make you think twice at how small the world is becoming at a frightening pace. This is a film that doesn't just question the morality but environmental issues but the allegorical message of the film is terrifying and throughout the film thanks to the smartly written script reminders of the world changing drastically are scattered throughout the film: the desrruction of the Tasmanian rain forest (like many other forests globally), job losses that impact local towns as they loose jobs, conservation groups been harassed by multi-national companies but most of all hunting a extinct creatures. The latter sort of ask you why do you hunt these 'mythical' creatures and why should we only read about these creatures in books and for the sake of the creature and it's environment maybe they should stay 'extinct'?

The Hunter is an beautifully shot film thanks to Robert Humphrey's breath taking cinematography that captivates the desolation and beauty of the wild terrain of Tasmania. The world is getting smaller and these hidden tranquil treasures are becoming as elusive tiger asking you what can you do to make sure these lands don't disappear?

The Hunter wont be a film which will appeal to everyone as it's a slow burning psychological thriller will keep you engaged until the end.It's atmospheric, beautifully shot and masterfully performed by an underrated esteemed actor in the industry today.

Paul Devine 


DVD/BD Rating: 29th October 2012 (UK)
Directed By: Daniel Nettheim
Cast:Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill , Morgana Davies, Frances O'Connor
Buy The Hunter:Blu-ray / DVD
Win The Hunter on DVD here

27 August 2012

Berberian Sound Studio Review

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Director, Peter Strickland (Katalin Varga) presents us with the truly unsettling look at the power of sound in his latest feature, the Toby Jones lead, Berberian Sound Studio – which makes its world premiere at this years’ Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Set in the 1970s, Berberian Sound Studio follows British sound technician, Gilderoy, as he works in Italy on a gruesome horror film. Soon Gilderoy’s work on this dark feature slowly begins to bleed into his everyday life.

Berberian Sound Studio is certainly not a horror film, instead more of a psychological thriller reminiscent of Hammer Films “Mini-Hitchcocks”. This completely absorbing and brooding drama manages to be unsettling, rather than scary. Strickland’s direction immediately emphasises a sense of foreboding, with the distinctive use of the sounds created in the studio capturing Gilderoy’s troubling mental state.

The vibrant and unsettling power of the sound is so strong, that we never see any of the imagery linked to this gruesome horror film (apart from its blood red opening titles) it is simply talked about, yet seeing these sounds created still has a sinister impact. Who knew hacking a watermelon or smashing some courgettes on ground could have such a chilling impact.

Berberian Sound Studio is at its best when capturing the changing mental state of Gilderoy – most notably one frantic, dream-like sequence where the technician’s life blurs with the Italian horror film as he believes there is an intruder in his apartment. Jones performance is terrifically understated, managing to capture both his initial coyness to his more extreme infuriation whilst working on the project. For an actor, that is traditionally cast in supporting roles, Jones proves to be equally impressive in a leading role.

Unfortunately, a utterly confusing and unnecessary twist ending spoils the foreboding and impact so carefully established throughout Berberian Sound Studio. This extreme twist is not given the build-up that it deserves only working as a method of shocking the viewer, but lacking any clear explanation or clarity. It marks a disappointing end to an otherwise well-crafted piece of cinema.

For the most part, Berberian Sound Studio is a unsettling, brooding psychological horror, boasting a magnificent turn from Toby Jones. The well-crafted narrative and powerful sound use are unfortunately spoilt by an over-ambitious twist ending.

Andrew McArthur

Stars: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou , Cosimo Fusco
Director: Peter Strickland
Release: 26th August 2012 (Frightfest) August 31st, 2012 (UK)

6 August 2012

Le Havre DVD Review

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Le Havre is the latest film by prolific Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki and was a big success at Cannes (winning 2 awards). It is also one of only 3 films of 2011 to be inducted into the Criterion collection so far.

Le Havre tells the story of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), an old shoe shiner in the title’s town who finds a young black boy Idrissa who is an illegal immigrate. He is hiding form the cops and takes him in. His wife is terminally ill but she won’t admit it to Marcel. They cops are after the boy to deport him and the rest of the film consists of Marcel trying to sort out a boat to get him to London.

The film is a really lovely low-key film. The film is called a “comedy-drama” but it’s not particularly laugh out funny but just gives you a smile throughout the film. The performances are all really wonderful all done very deadpan as expected in Kaurismäki’s films. The film’s look is very influenced of many French filmmakers such as Robert Bresson, Marcel Carné, Jean Pierre-Melville which is expected because of it’s setting and also in Bresson’s minimalism which is evident in many of Kaurismäki’s films.

The film overall is a wonderfully offbeat as expected with Kaurismäki and it interesting themed dramedy. It’s also to see a film that is deliciously old fashioned it’s a film that could have easily been made over 50 years ago and wouldn’t be much different. It’s highly recommended 90 minutes.

Ian Schultz

Rating: PG
DVD/BD Release Date: 06 August 2012
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Cast: André Wilms, Blondin Miguel , Jean-Pierre Darroussin

23 July 2012

Feature - Oscar Winning Combinations

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Many Oscar winners return to work with the directors that helped them win their Oscar, to try and rekindle that winning combination. Rachel Weisz won an Oscar in 2006 for her role in The Constant Gardener, which was directed by Fernando Meirelles. Six years later she is back working with Fernando on his new film: 360. Ahead of 360’s August 10th release, we’ve decided to look at other actors and directors that have worked together again after winning an Oscar. ROBERT DE NIRO AND MARTIN SCORSESE This pair first worked together on the film Mean Streets in 1973 and then went on to make eight films together. De Niro won an Oscar from their film Raging Bull, which was the forth movie they made as a team. After winning the Oscar they made 4 more films, the last being Casino in 1995. There are rumours that Scorsese and De Niro might team up again in the future.

Raging Bull Trailer Published via

MERYL STREEP AND ROBERT BENTON In 1979 Meryl Streep won her first Oscar for her role as Joanna Kramer in Kramer vs. Kramer, directed by Robert Benton, as was Still of the Night which came out 3 years later in 1982. Meryl Streep had the leading role in this film too but unfortunately did not win another Oscar. She would have to wait until the next year and Sophie’s Choice to win again.

Sophie's Choice | "The Choice" Published via

JEAN DUJARDIN AND MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS Last year both Jean and Michel shot to fame with the hugely successful film The Artist. It took 5 Oscars at the 2012 Academy Awards including best actor for Jean Dujardin. The pair have recently released another film together, The Players. Who knows how many more awards this popular pair can pull in.

The Artist #6 Movie CLIP - Tap Dancing to the Top (2011) HD Published via

JACK NICHOLSON AND JAMES L. BROOKS The triple Oscar winner Jack Nicholson won two of his three Oscars with the same director, James L. Brooks. He won one for Terms of Endearment in 1983 and then another for As Good As It Gets in 1998. Recently the pair worked together again in How Do You Know. These two work extremely well together – fingers crossed there may be another collaboration on the cards.

Terms Of Endearment Trailer Published via

360 arrives in cinemas August 10th.

360 Official UK trailer - In Cinemas August 10 Published via

11 July 2012

Frightfest 2012: Stylish Trailer For Berberbian Sound Studio

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Horror fans know outside the Golden era of Horror films with Hammer, Italian horror and Giallo especially gave fresh impotence to the genre. It's thanks to a unknown  UK sound sound designer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) he helped to re-define the horror sound but as  the story goes in Berberbian Sound Studio  Peter Strickland's new film  that sinister side of the film maybe following him outside his work.

The film made it's world premier at last month's Edinburgh Film Festival (read Andrew's review) and will be playing at next months Film4 Frightfest in London just before its UK release. Artificial Eye Films  have released the films new official trailer which is highly stylised which arthouse and Giallo fans will both love.

Berberian Sound Studio will be released in UK&Ireland August 31st.

Berberian Sound Studio official trailer - in cinemas 31 August Published via

In the 1970s, a British sound technician (Toby Jones) is brought to Italy to work on the sound effects for a gruesome horror film. His nightmarish task slowly takes over his psyche, driving him to confront his own past. Berberian Sound Studio is many things: an anti-horror film, a stylistic tour de force, and a dream of cinema. As such, it offers a kind of pleasure that is rare in films, while recreating in a highly original way the pleasures of Italian horror cinema.

7 July 2012

Aki Kaurismäki's LE HAVRE DVD/BluRay Details

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LE HAVRE sees Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) tackle the subject of Northern Europe’s attitude to refugees from the developing world. His approach is dramatic, funny, heart-warming and, like his other work, beautifully offbeat. Featuring superb performances from its cast that includes André Wilms (La Vie de Bohème), Jean-Pierre Darroussin (Red Lights) and the young Blondin Miguel, LE HAVRE is a must-own title of the summer and is released 6 August on DVD &Blu-ray.

Marcel Marx (Wilms), a former author and a well-known Bohemian, has retreated into a voluntary exile in the port city of Le Havre, where he feels he has reached a closer rapport with the people serving them in the occupation of the honourable, but not too profitable, of a shoe-shiner. He has buried his dreams of a literary breakthrough and lives happily within the triangle of his favourite bar, his work, and his wife Arletty (Outinen), when fate suddenly throws in his path an underage immigrant refugee from the darkest Africa. As Arletty at the same time gets seriously ill and is bedridden, Marcel once more has to rise against the cold wall of human indifference with his only weapon of innate optimism and the unwavering solidarity of the people of his quartier, but against him stands the whole blind machinery of the Western constitutionally governed state, this time represented by the dragnet of the police, moment by moment drawing closer around the refugee boy.

It’s time for Marcel to polish his shoes and reveal his teeth.
Le Havre will be yours to own on DVD&Blu-Ray when it's released in UK&Ireland 6 August. Stay tuned for a fresh DVD review and a chance to win a copy of the film on DVD a joint competition with The Peoples Movies. Le Havre stars André Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Kate Outinen

Le Havre Official UK Trailer - In Cinemas April 6 Published via

Pre Order/Buy:Le Havre On DVD/ Blu-ray

6 July 2012

The Hunter Review

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The problem with The Hunter is that it is in fact two different films. One is a relationship drama, the tale of a lonely, isolated man finding a family. The other is a tense, quiet, conspiracy thriller with spiritual overtones, played out against the backdrop of an ideological dispute between environmentalism and labour. This is hardly a match made in heaven, and though there is a thematic throughline, it doesn’t manage to fully meld the two halves. As a result The Hunter comes across as confused, and is undone by that confusion.

The titular Hunter is a man named Martin David (Willem Dafoe), a mercenary, bounty-hunter-ish person suffering from Unspecified Malaise, which is the bubonic plague of independent movies. He is hired by the not-at-all-sinister military company Red Leaf to go to Tasmania. His mission: to find and capture the Tasmanian tiger, a striped, doglike marsupial thought to be extinct, whose paralysing poison would be of considerable value if reverse-engineered. In order to ensure that they remain the only ones hunting for the animal Martin is ordered undercover. As such, he ends up staying in a house of hippies under the fiction that he is a university researcher. There he encounters two children: Bike (Finn Woodlock) and Sass (Morgana Davies), and immediately the precocious bonding commences.

But these are not your everyday child actors. In fact, the performance given by these kids is easily the high point of the film. Davies manages to keep her childish talkiness the right side of irritating, her chattering instead being consistently funny and sweet, even with her slight lisp. Woodlock is also adorable, and, thinking back on the film, crazy talented. His role, as a withdrawn, silent boy, scarred by the disappearance of his father and the mental collapse of his mother, makes for an entire movie with no talking. And yet he is a good enough actor that his silence speaks volumes. In addition it is his relationship with Dafoe’s character that is the core of the film, and holding his own against such a seasoned veteran is an achievement an actor twice his age should treasure.

By comparison I don’t feel Dafoe brought his A-game to The Hunter. That’s not to say his performance is bad: such would be the ramblings of a madman. Dafoe perfectly captures the chill isolation of Martin’s life. Unfortunately, the thaw is less convincing. This feels like a film where the central character should end up transfigured, where the person he becomes at the end should be very different to the person he was at the beginning. But that is not the case. Dafoe’s performance never loses the chill, and this undermines a lot of his more emotional moments towards the end.

But really, the problem with The Hunter is with the story, not the lead. Simply put, the parts of this film where Dafoe and the kids are interacting, where John Martin is coming out of his shell and becoming part of the family; those parts are engaging, delightful and fun. The parts that concern his hunt for the Tasmanian tiger? Well they’re good from a character perspective, and show that at least one of the writers (probably Julia Leigh, who wrote the original book) really knows their stuff when it comes to trapping. But they’re also pretty freaking dull. I frequently found myself drifting off during these sequences, staring blankly at the screen and getting lost in my own thoughts. I had to make an effort to pay attention. That is less than ideal.

For my money, this lack of engagement is a result of these scenes deviating from the central theme. The Hunter is a movie about emergence from a living death. John Martin at the beginning of the film is basically a zombie. He pointedly avoids human company. He listens to classical music, but has no idea what any of it means. There’s even this visual metaphor in which Martin takes a bath, slides under the surface, and lies there for as long as possible, before erupting out of the water like a corpse from his grave. This cycle of death and forced rebirth is broken when the children invade his bath: their lively enthusiasm interrupts his Lazarus-style ritual and symbolises the return of true life.

It’s a great theme. Unfortunately, it’s not till the very end that it becomes part of his hunt for the tiger. Instead to pass the time we have a conspiracy thriller subplot that, though fairly well-constructed, feels disconnected and wasteful. What I cared about in The Hunter was Martin’s awakening, and I didn’t have many shits left to give for the outcome of a vague murder-mystery. I might have had some care for a subplot based around an ideological conflict between environmentalism and labour, which the film promises now and again. Irritatingly though, The Hunter leaves that potentially interesting avenue unexplored. Workers and environmentalists are, broadly speaking, both ‘good guys’ from a left-wing political perspective. Having such a perspective, I would love to witness an examination of a conflict between them and the social consequences. But though the film promised, it never delivered.

The Hunter then has much to recommend it. In the scenes with Dafoe and the kids bouncing off each other, there’s even a spark of greatness. But the film loses its way. It doesn’t develop where it should, and spends time where perhaps it shouldn’t. It is not a bad film. But it is confused and messy, and so ultimately devoid of lasting impact.

Adam Brodie

Rating: 15
UK Release Date: 6th July 2012
Directed By:Daniel Nettheim
Cast:Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O'Connor, Sullivan Stapleton

The Hunter UK trailer - starring Willem Dafoe, in cinemas nationwide 6 July Published via