Martin David (played by Willem Dafoe) is a scientist and naturalist. A loner and an experienced hunter, David is hired in Paris by a global bio-tech company to follow up on folklore and track down a legendary Tasmanian Tiger – a wolf-like creature, thought to have become extinct around 1930, native to the Tasmanian wilderness in Australia. It is believed to have a special enzyme in its system which (if its DNA could be scientifically duplicated) would be a highly valuable commodity in today’s lucrative and competitive bio-technology industry. Although thought extinct, there have been sightings by locals in the Tasmanian wilderness. David is instructed to keep his activities under wraps due to the highly competitive industry and to anticipate that others may also be on the trail of the legendary creature. He travels to the remotest part of Tasmania and settles into his “no frills” accommodation at the home of Lucy Armstrong (by Frances O’Connor) and her two precocious children, Sass (by Morgana Davies) and Bike (by Finn Woodluck). On his first day on the search, their neighbour, Jack Mendy (by Sam Neill) helps Martin navigate the suspicious locals and shows him the trail into the wilderness. He sets about to find traces of the Tiger and find out the truth about its existence or not – but he finds a few other strange things along the way …..
Based on Australian writer Julia Leigh’s novel, this is a beautifully made movie. The Tasmanian wilderness is stark, stunning and totally awesome (in its true sense of the word) – it’s just fabulous. Willem Dafoe is strong, steady and doesn’t disappoint. Frances O’Connor is great, but I think more could have been made of her role. The two children are marvellous – such great acting ability in ones so young, particularly Morgana Davies, but both are noteworthy. Some might say that this truly Australian movie should have been lead by an Australian actor, but I don’t think that is necessary, nor does it detract from this movie. Sam Neill is vital in this role as Jack Mendy, he is the one who injects the edge of sinister mystery into the plot. There are intricacies of the Tasmanian political landscape that are provided here, but a little to complex to be explored very deeply – however, the passion with which each side believes in their cause is clearly shown. Overall, the movie is a little bigger on potential than it is on delivery, but it is pretty good – and the ending is very nice.
Made in 2011. Directed by Daniel Nettheim