The Hunting Party (2007)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Hunting Party</strong> (2007)

(In theaters, September 2007) As a pretty sarcastic guy myself, I feel a strong kinship to films that keep pointing out the unconscious absurdity of the world out there. You would think that a sardonic based-on-reality comedy like The Hunting Party (in which a group of journalists goes hunting for a war criminal… and finds him) would appeal, and it does: at its best, writer/director Richard Shepard’s film pulls off a very entertaining mixture of smart-ass narration, dark humour and hard realpolitiks. The characters thrive in senseless situations, and the machine that they set in motion has a well-worn implacability that feels right. By the time the film ends by putting in words what every viewer has been working out for themselves, The Hunting Party feels like the find of cute little hidden film that rewards those who scour the shelves of their local videoclub. But it’s not a complete success, and it’s the very qualities that make the film work that also make it sputter in place. The tonal shifts of the picture are particularly annoying, especially when they don’t work: Having established early on that the film is going to be a comedy, the script never manages to instill any degree of suspense, and it just digs itself in a hole when it tries to do so. The tragic subplot involving the lead character’s history also sticks out as a mismatched heartfelt section in a generally cynical landscape. The parts of the film keep working against each other and the result often feels like missed opportunities to go even deeper in the ridiculousness of the situation. It’s not a complete failure, but it’s frustrating enough as a faint success.

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