The Notable Films of 2011: Part Six

The Hunter

Opens: 2011
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O’Connor, Sullivan Stapleton, Callan Mulvey
Director: Daniel Nettheim

Summary: A European mercenary is hired by a biotech firm to search for the fabled Thylacine in the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness. Posing as a naturalist, he moves into a remote house on the edge of the Central Plateau area with a strange local family to carry out his task.

Analysis: The demise of the Tasmanian Tiger is one of the grimmest blights on the modern day conservation record. Hunted to extinction early last century, hundreds of unconfirmed sightings of these really quite beautiful looking marsupial predators have emerged in the decades since but none of them have been conclusive. Back in the 80’s billionaire Ted Turner offered a $100,000 reward for evidence of the creature’s continued existence, while others have offered over a million for it being captured alive – none have been able to claim it.

Now comes a psychological thriller film adaptation of Julia Leigh’s first novel from 1999 which scored some varied reaction upon its release. With the island portrayed as a rundown rural hinterland and practically every Tasmanian character in the novel as staunch anti-environmental rednecks, it comes as no surprise that people from that Australian state found it rather insulting.

Others didn’t like the central conceit of the novel, that the titular man known only as ‘M’ (called ‘Martin’ in the film) doesn’t undergo some ‘back to nature’ emotional epiphany or redemption for his obviously troubled past – instead he remains a distant figure, a hard-boiled agent efficient at his job who can pull off the veneer of the everyman with chilling ease, even during his ‘surrogate father figure’ act with the family’s two children as their real father has disappeared and their mother lies in a drug-induced stupor.

This $6.3 million film adaptation began shooting on location in Tasmania in November under the helm of Daniel Nettheim. Nettheim directed the 1999 Aussie indie rom-com “Angst”, a film on which I was an extra funnily enough (you can see the back of my head for all of a fraction of a second in one shot), and has since gone on to direct a lot of impressive local television series including “Spirited,” “Rush,” “All Saints,” “White Collar Blue” and “The Secret Life of Us”. He’s also surrounded by some strong talent including cinematographer Bob Humphreys (“Somersault,” “Triangle”), producer Vincent Sheehan (“Animal Kingdom”) and scribe Alice Addison (“The Silence”).

Few films have used Tasmania as a locale, the most famous being the award-winning “The Tale of Ruby Rose” along with recent horrendous horror film “Dying Breed”, and the more impressive period tales “The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce” and “Van Diemen’s Land”. Yet “The Hunter” has the potential to break through in a way those earlier films didn’t thanks to the help of an impressive cast, source material which was taught in many Australian schools, and some strong distribution and production companies backing it.

The Complete Notable Films of 2011 Guide

Part One: 5 Days of August, 11-11-11, 13 Assassins, 30 Minutes or Less, Abduction, The Adjustment Bureau, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Albert Nobbs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Amigo, Anonymous, Apollo 18, The Apparition, Arthur, Arthur Christmas, Atlas Shrugged: Part One, Bad Teacher, Barney’s Version, Battle: Los Angeles, Beastly

Part Two: The Beaver, Beginners, Bel Ami, Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, The Big Year, Black Gold, Blackthorn, The Black Tulip, Blitz, Born to Be a Star, The Borrower Arrietty, Bridesmaids, Brighton Rock, Butter, The Cabin in the Woods, Caesar: Rise of the Apes, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cars 2

Part Three: Catch .44, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Cedar Rapids, Ceremony, Certified Copy, Chalet Girl, The Change-Up, Clean Skin, The Cold Light of Day, Cold Weather, Colombiana, Conan the Barbarian, The Conspirator, Contagion, The Convincer, Coriolanus, Courageous, Cowboys and Aliens, Crazy Stupid Love, The Cup

Part Four: Damsels in Distress, A Dangerous Method, The Darkest Hour, The Debt, The Deep Blue Sea, The Descendants, The Details, The Devil’s Double, Dibbuk Box, The Dilemma, Dolphin Tale 3D, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Dream House, Drive, Drive Angry 3D, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, The Eagle, Even the Rain, Every Day, Everything Must Go, The Eye of the Storm

Part Five: The Factory, Fast Five, The Fields, Final Destination 5, Flypaper, Footloose, Friends with Benefits, Friends with Kids, Fright Night, From Prada to Nada, The Future, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gnomeo and Juliet 3D, Goon, The Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Griff the Invisible, The Guard, Guns Girls and Gambling, Hall Pass

Part Six: The Hangover: Part Two, Hanna, Happy Feet 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, Haywire, A Heartbeat Away, The Help, Henry’s Crime, HERE, Higher Ground, Hobo with a Shotgun, Homework, Hop, Horrible Bosses, The Housemaid, House of My Father, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Hugo Cabret, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, The Hunter

Part Seven: I Am Number Four, I Melt With You, The Ides of March, Immortals, The Impossible, In A Better World, Incendies, The Innkeepers, Insidious, Intruders, In Your Hands, Ironclad, Jack and Diane, Jack and Jill, Jane Eyre, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Johnny English Reborn, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Jumping the Broom, Just Go With It, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Part Eight: Kaboom, The Killer Elite, Killer Joe, Kill The Irishman, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Lady, Larry Crowne, Last Night, The Ledge, Life in a Day, Like Crazy, Limitless, The Lincoln Lawyer, Little Birds, A Little Bit of Heaven, Little White Lies, Live With It, London Boulevard, The Loneliest Planet, Love and Bruises, The Lucky One

Part Nine: Machine Gun Preacher, Mad Bastards, Man on a Ledge, The Man with the Iron Fist, Margin Call, Mars Needs Moms!, Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Mechanic, Meek’s Cutoff, Melancholia, Midnight in Paris, The Mill and the Cross, Miral, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Moneyball, The Monk, Monte Carlo, Mother’s Day, Movie 43, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Muppets

Part Ten: My Idiot Brother, My Week with Marilyn, Neds, New Year’s Eve, No Strings Attached, Now, Of Gods and Men, On the Road, One Day, One for the Money, Oranges and Sunshine, The Other Woman, Paranormal Activity 3, Passion Play, Paul, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Peep World, Perfect Sense, Piranha 3DD, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, Project X

Part Eleven: Prom, Puss in Boots, Rampart, Rango, The Raven, Real Steel, Red Dawn, Red Dog, Red Riding Hood, Red State, Red Tails, Restless, Retreat, Rio, Route Irish, The Rum Diary, Safe, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Salvation Boulevard, Say Nothing

Part Twelve: Scream 4, A Serbian Film, Serge Gainsbourg: A Life Heroic, Shame, Shaolin, Shark Night 3D, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Shelter, The Silent House, The Sitter, The Skin That I Inhabit, Sleeping Beauty, The Smurfs, Snabba Cash, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Snowtown, Soldiers of Fortune, Something Borrowed, Son of No One, Soul Surfer

Part Thirteen: Source Code, Space Battleship Yamato, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Straw Dogs, Submarine, Sucker Punch, Super, Super 8, Take Shelter, Take This Waltz, Ten Year, There Be Dragons, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, This Means War, This Must Be The Place, Thor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tower Heist