* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - N/A
Genre - Drama
County - Iran (subtitles)
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 90 minutes
Blockbusters - £0.99 per night
Amazon - £7.00p DVD
So, a brooding macho Iranian subtitled film anyone? I thought not. Well I like my foreign films and if a good one shows up in Blockbusters I'm going to rent it, simple as, especially as Blockbusters is about to go under, which it is. It's unlikely this type of subtitled film will be tolerated in the UK when the only way to watch them will be online or waiting for it to arrive in a brown envelope three days later and so enjoy it while you can is my feeling on things.
The star of the film is Rafi Pitts, also the director and probably the only one who knows what is going on in his film and the motives for its lead protagonist. Purist will be infuriated with him by the way this film fails to explain certain situations and endings, The Hunter an extremely opaque affair. I, on the other hand, love films that don't preach to you and try to leave it up to the viewer to decide what means what and so reveled in the mystery of offer, the film as intriguing and enigmatic as Iran, the point, one presumes. That and the subtitles make you concentrate hard on films like this and so delightfully disoriented by the end. Never take the easy option when enjoying film.
Rafi Pitts ... Ali Alavi
Mitra Hajjar ... Sara P. Alavi - Ali's Wife
Malek Jahan Khazai ... Ali's Mother
Naser Madahi ... Basiri - Old Night guard
Ismaïl Amani ... Young boy
Saba Yaghoobi ... Saba Alavi - Ali's Daughter
Ali Mazinani ... Reza - Young night guard
Gholamreza Rajabzadeh ... Nazem - Police Officer
Ali Nicksaulat ... Police Officer - Commander
Brooding thirtysomething Ali (Rafi Pitts) is recently out of prison, for what offence we are not told, possibly for political reasons as this is Iran and he doesn't seem to like authority. He is struggling to find work to feed his wife Sara (Mitra Hajjar) and young daughter Saba (SabaYaghoobi) and when he is offered something, it's a security guard on the nightshirt at a factory, keeping him from his family once again, the only shift available to ex cons, so says the boss.
Ali is a man of few words and his only escape to enjoy his hunting hobby out in the woods in his spare time. What he hunts we don't know but he seems at home with nature and the haunting silence of the forest and the stillness of the passive mountains, the chance to impress his masculinity and pride of being who he is. Be it fleetingly he is a free man in the swirling mists and granite tips of the endless Iranian mountain ranges.
When his wife and daughter go missing in Tehran the police eventually reveal his wife has been killed but there was no little girl with her. Frantic, he hits the city with flyers, desperate to find her or someone who may have seen her. But nobody has and he is resigned to this fete, taking it out on the police by killing two cops on the motorway with his hunting rifle. Now he is a wanted man and the chase begins, the real Ali once again unpeeled now he is free of his chains.
I would say The Hunter is an acquired taste and if you like your movies to be laid out neatly in narrative and uncomplicated then this will do you head in. Nothing is explained and everything is a mystery, propaganda mixing with anxiety, what it must be like to live in Iran. Maybe the main protagonist was in prison for killing cops and why his wife and daughter have gone or maybe he was once one of them. Who knows? Either way Rafi Pitts magnetic lead turn is the movie and you won't let go of his arm in the forest. I think it's about masculinity amongst men and the need to keep your identity as family and authority crush you into a small space like a junk yard car compactor but again, who knows?
Yes the film is a little confusing and deliberately obtrusive and nothing is ever revealed but this still intrigues. It's definitely an anti Iran regime statement and so exercise by Pitts on his beloved repressive country as the film looks and feels dark and foreboding throughout to express that authoritarian society of secret police the paranoid ranting mullahs have created to keep power in Iran. Even the grey cars on the spaghetti of flyovers and motorways seem set to only drive at one boring speed all day or you will get a limb chopped off by someone important. In fact it almost art house at times and the real message and mystery of the film hidden in the films makers vision on screen, Rafi's foreboding performance simply a sinecure to sign post it.
Imdb.com - 6.2/10.0 (875 votes)
Metacritc.com - 76% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 78% critic's approval rating
Chicago Sun -Times -'This is a parable about modern Iran, and like many recent Iranian films it leaves its meaning to the viewer'.
Village Voice -'Filmed during the months leading up to the 2009 presidential election in Iran, The Hunter still seethes with fury -- and anticipates the blood that would spill after the vote'.
New York Times - 'The clammy chill that pervades "The Hunter," the fourth feature film by the Iranian director Rafi Pitts, seeps under your skin as you wait for its grim, taciturn protagonist to detonate'.
New Yorker -'If you find it convenient to think of Iran more as a bad dream than as a perceptible place, this is the film for you'.
New York Daily Times -'Pitts turns images of everyday urban sights - plaza steps, concrete apartment houses - into reflections of Ali's sense of emptiness and entrapment'.
Daily Mirror -'A film with a split personality, it initially intrigues before eventually infuriating'.
The Telegraph -'Moody and rather depressing, it's also haunting and utterly involving right to the bitter end.
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