Tribeca Film Festival 2024 Review – HUNTERS ON A WHITE FIELD – The Global Tofay

Tribeca Film Festival 2024 Review - HUNTERS ON A WHITE FIELD - The Global Tofay Global Today
When their animal prey mysteriously disappears, three hunters turn
their guns on each other.

Directed by: Sarah Gyllenstierna

Starring: Ardalan Esmaili, Magnus Krepper, Jens Hultén


What could be behind this current trend? I suspect first and foremost
it’s a case of following the advice of confining your low budget movie to
a single location, and a forest gives you instant production value. But
it’s also a chance to explore several themes within that setting, with
disparate characters thrown together in a milieu that some will embrace
while others will be uncomfortable within.


With Hunters on a White Field, Swedish writer/director Sarah Gyllenstierna puts three men in a forest, loads them
up with alcohol and ammo, and watches the sparks fly. It has a similar
dynamic to Hunting Daze, but here it’s not a woman positioned as the outsider but a young
Asian man, Alex (Ardalan Esmaili). Alex embarks on a hunting trip
with his older boss Gregger (Magnus Krepper), whom he is keen to
impress. Gregger seems similarly impressed by Alex and has taken him
under his fatherly wings. They head off to the Swedish countryside, with
Gregger tearing up the back roads in his sportscar, and arrive at a
cabin owned by the family of the boorish Henrik (Jens Hultén).

At first Alex is clearly uncomfortable in the presence of these two
loud and obnoxious white men, who physically tower over him and don’t
hesitate in making crude jokes about his dark skin negating his need for
camouflage. Desperate to fit in, Alex keeps quiet. But when Alex starts
bagging animals, something changes within him. He discovers something
primal within himself and starts to stand up for himself in the company
of Gregger and Henrik, who come to view him as an equal.


For its first hour, Hunters on a White Field is an effective slow burn character study. With minimal
Gyllenstierna portrays the shifting psychologies of each of her male
protagonists. As Alex becomes a gun-toting alpha male, Gregger and
Henrik become less boorish and begin speaking in pseudo-spiritual terms
about the communion between hunter and prey. There’s a sad desperation
in these men who have climbed ladders to lofty perches in society and
yet feel like they’ve lost something along the way, that they’ve been
tamed by modern society. There’s much talk of the old Viking ways, and
it’s telling that Alex begins to metaphorically puff his chest out when
he’s accidentally cut by an ancient hunting knife during some boisterous
play-acting. You get the sense that Alex is empowered by killing animals
because for the first time in his life he feels like he’s the one in

Things take an unwieldy tonal shift in a final act that plunges the
drama into the realm of the absurd. The three men make a pact and
suddenly the film begins to resemble something like Marco
Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe in its satirical detachment from reality. It’s a shift I’m afraid
I simply couldn’t buy, as it jars so much with the psychological
character study the film had rendered so effectively prior to that


If her feature debut doesn’t quite come together, there’s much here to
Gyllenstierna is a filmmaker of some promise. In her film’s moody
build-up she creates a tense atmosphere by allowing us to observe how
the characters react to one another’s behaviour. She never relies on
dialogue to define her characters; in fact what’s said here is often a
defensive front and nothing uttered by these insecure men can be taken
at face value. But perhaps her film’s greatest strength is in how deeply
pathetic it makes the “sport” of killing animals appear. This is clearly
a pastime for deeply insecure, middle class, middle-aged men. Just buy a
sportscar lads.

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