- 03 Nov 10
Though The Hunter aims for tension, it’s way off target, hitting tedium instead
Self-indulgence, thy name is Rafi Pitts. It seems the award-winning Iranian director has fallen prey to his own hype. Acting as director, producer and leading actor of The Hunter, Pitts extends what could have been an intriguing short film into a mind-numbingly dull feature.
Ali Alavi (Pitts, obviously) is a monosyllabic ex-con who works the night shift as a factory security guard and communicates in rare monosyllables. But hey, he’s still a fun guy; occasionally he goes into the woods and shoots at nothing in particular. Prepare for a riveting first hour. No, I mean it – prepare. As in, bring a book. Which you will be rudely distracted from in the film’s final thirty minutes, when Ali’s wife and daughter are killed and The Hunter jarringly launches into thematic overdrive.
In an obtuse metaphor for Iran’s silent fury with its corrupt government, Ali becomes a vigilante figure, coldly killing two policemen and trying to avoid capture by hiding in the woods. Of course, we should be rooting for this representative of the Iranian people who’s trying to outsmart Ahmadinejad’s cronies, right? And usually we would, really, but it’s just so hard to cheer while also trying to nap.
Pitts’ downfall is his belief that formality is always powerful. Visually The Hunter is striking, but its cold intellectualism is impressive rather than engaging. A predictable pattern emerges, consisting of interactions filmed through doorways, aeriel shots of industrial landscapes and cuts to bustling traffic. Like Pitts’ expressionless lead performance, the visual style keeps the audience at a distance, and induces not just boredom, but apathy. Though Ali is at the core of the film, by its leftfield conclusion you don’t know anything about him, except that he’d be damn good in a staring match.
Though The Hunter aims for tension, it’s way off target, hitting tedium instead. A missed opportunity.