8.21.2007

The Hunting Party Review

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The Hunting Party
****-

At the heart of The Hunting Party is one of those stories that you would hear at a dinner party, realize is one of the coolest stories you've ever heard, and then go on to tell at every other party you attend, only this time a little bit cooler than before. Well, at this party the story is being told by Richard Shepard, the director of the under appreciated The Matador.
This is the story of two journalists and one rookie reporter who arrive in post-war torn Bosnia only to become roped into a scheme to interview (or catch) the most notorious war criminal of the time. Their quest to find "The Fox" is obviously a dangerous one resulting in their unfortunate confrontations with a sketchy United Nations officer, a threatening bar tender, a menacing midget, and a soulless torturer. It is quite honestly insane, that is, considering that it is mostly true.

The rendition of this story stars the immensely talented Richard Gere, the young Jesse Eisenberg (Squid and The Whale), and Terrence Dashon Howard. While for the most part their performances are convincing and well portrayed, at times they barely manage to keep their lines from being too stale. This is more of a problem with the script than anything else. There are many occasions in this story that tend to be heavily melodramatic, usually involving lines with obvious political overtones or insightful voice overs. It's hardly distracting and at times actually works quite well, however it is something all too common in political thrillers and in this case, causes the story to ring somewhat hollow.

Of course, with all films "based on a true story," the audience is confronted with how much of a story is in fact true. In this case we are at least comforted with a disclaimer that reads: "This movie is based on actual events. Only the most ridiculous ones are true." That, along with a friendly reminder at the end to help clarify the facts, help to settle any left-over doubts. Still, you can't help but wonder about the actual people this story deals with. Unfortunately there is no documentation or evidence of the individuals themselves, in real life that is, provided in the film. Unlike the great American Splendor, a film which managed to blend the actual subjects and the actors who portray them, there is a severe lack of first hand accounts. As a result, the story is rendered the same amount of credit as though a good friend of a friend were telling you about it from across a table.
Who knows, perhaps that is the point. In any case, I was entertained and thoroughly interested up to the end. With all politics aside, it is a fascinating story. It's worth watching.

1 comment:

F said...

It's based on an Esquire article by Scott Anderson - "What I Did On My Summer Vacation", or something very much like that. You can read it online at Esquire.com.