Director Rafi Pitts (who also takes on the lead role) brings to the screen a deft, deep film that happily leaves the viewer wanting more while drawing enough of a detailed picture to give you plenty to mull over and discuss long after the end credits have rolled.
When his wife and daughter are caught up in the crossfire of a shoot-out between the police and insurgents, ex-con Ali (Pitts) finds his mental state deteriorating as the consequences of this unhappy accident begin to erode his core. Thinking of how he feels when on the hunting trips that he so enjoys, Ali soon starts to look at the grand scheme of things through the sight of a rifle.
Nominated for the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010, it’s easy to see why this would be a favourite amongst critics. The subject matter is a mix of political (albeit ever so subtly done), emotional and timely. Not wanting to generalise a whole country with any ignorant assumptions but it’s most interesting to me to consider how this movie will go down in the United States, where infamous incidents like the one dealt with here have occurred in the far-too-recent past.
All of the acting is top notch (with extra praise going to Pitts for his quiet, intense performance) and there are moments here that will get your mind working overtime (be it from specific character interaction or a few, intriguing lines of dialogue shown in flashback) even while you’re taking in the implications and possible repercussions of the developing central story strand.
The script is a rather sparse one, but that’s often a deliberate choice by film-makers choosing to make a non-English movie, but what it has in there is all created for maximum impact, either due to character development or tension building.
The second half of the film contains two unexpected, polarising points. One is a car chase that, if allowed to go on, could very easily have rivalled anything seen onscreen since the likes of McQueen, Hackman et al put their pedals to the metal (is it coincidental considering McQueen also starred in a movie called The Hunter? I guess it probably is but there was a touch of Bullitt amongst the bullets). The other point is the ending itself. Without wanting to give anything away, it’s a little bit anti-climactic and doesn’t reward the viewer for sticking by a character who has been having such a difficult time of things, to put it mildly. Having said that, it’s yet another element that makes you think about everything you have watched unfold and even if the end result is still disappointing once you’ve deliberated upon it, that’s still better than being spoonfed for every moment of the running time.
DIRECTOR: RAFI PITTS
STARS: RAFI PITTS, MITRA HAJJAR, HASSAN GHALENOI, ALI NICKSAULAT
RUNTIME: APPROX 90 MINS