The Hunter (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/10/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Strikingly shot and impressively directed, this is a gripping, challenging and emotionally engaging political thriller with a superb central performance from writer-director Rafi Pitts.

What's it all about?
The Hunter is set on the eve of the 2009 elections in Tehran, Iran and stars writer-director Rafi Pitts as Ali, an ex-con forced to take a job as a night watchman, who wishes he could spend more time with his wife Sara (Mitra Hajjar) and six-year-old daughter Saba (Saba Yaghoobi). Returning from a hunting trip, Ali is devastated to find that his wife and daughter have both been killed in a clash between police and political protesters.

A man of few words and even fewer facial expressions, Ali soon shows how he's feeling by taking a sniper rifle to a motorway bridge and killing two cops. Soon he finds himself on the run, pursued by two policemen (Naser Madahi and Ali Mazinani) with wildly opposing viewpoints on what they should do with Ali when they catch him.

The Good
Rafi Pitts (who looks like a cross between Christopher Lambert and Get Smart's Don Adams) delivers a superb performance as Ali, whose minimal dialogue and taciturn demeanour mask powerful emotional turmoil. There's also strong support from Madahi and Mazinani as the conflicting cops, while Hajjar and Yaghoobi add an all-too-brief sweetness as Sara and Saba, most notably in a colourfully shot fairground scene that plays like something out of a 1960s thriller.

Pitts' direction is striking throughout, particularly in his use of loud ambient noise on the soundtrack and its seamless shift between roaring industrial noise (the factory) and natural sounds in the forest (a waterfall). He also has a terrific eye for a striking image, whether it's a fleet of identical cars or a long shot of the fugitive and the two cops becoming lost amongst the trees.

The Great
On top of that, Pitts orchestrates two terrific action sequences – firstly the sniper attack and then an exciting, fog-shrouded car chase. In addition, the editing is both startling and original, especially during the climax of the chase sequence.

There are also several political references that will no doubt be lost on western audiences, but you don't need a degree in Iranian politics to discern a strong anti-establishment message in Pitts' view of the police.

Worth seeing?
The Hunter is a superbly directed, emotionally engaging and ultimately haunting arthouse thriller that deserves to be seen. Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/07/2018 02:35

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