Tribeca 2024 Review: HUNTERS ON A WHITE FIELD, Trapped in Their Own Toxic Masculinity

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
Tribeca 2024 Review: HUNTERS ON A WHITE FIELD, Trapped in Their Own Toxic Masculinity

What is it about pale white men hunting with big guns?

Hunters on a White Field
The film enjoys its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival.

Driving through a forest in a convertible with the top down, two men see a third man running naked in the woods, screaming.

Hendrik is the wildly running man, a boisterous sort, and he has a cabin in the woods that sits on private family property. He is longtime friends with Alex, who has invited the younger Gregor along on the hunting trip, an annual event that will be coming to a conclusion soon with the sale of the property.

Initially, the premise and setup is reminiscent of John Coorman's Deliverance (1972), which was based on a novel by James Dickey that plunged deeply into the heart of toxic masculinity before there was a modern definition for such a thing, following four men who take a trip on a river in the woods, shortly before it's due to become a lake.

First published in 1986, Mats Wägeus's novel Jakt på ett vitt fält serves as the source material. Sarah Gyllenstierna adapted the novel for the screen and directed; it's her first feature, but her experience as a producer and also as a writer/director of her own short films comes to bear on the screen.

Hunters on a White Field is exquisitely well-made and persuasively performed. In essence, it's a three-hander, so it's very much dependent on the script creating characters who are complex and layered in recognizable human behavior. Then the actors need to be able to breathe life into those characters, who could, on first impression, simply be three lug-headed men who charge into the woods and think they are big game hunters as they track down innocent and peaceful animals.

Intensely breezy, Hendrik (Jens Hulten) appears to be the 'devil may care' type of fellow, spitting out invectives and taking the lead in 'having fun.' His type appears to be shallow, but there is more to him than first appearances suggest.

A corporate type who is accustomed to taking charge and giving orders, Alex (Magnus Krepper) is comfortable as the link between Hendrik and Gregor (Ardalan Esmaili), though their relationships are markedly different. Hendrik and Alex are buddies, friends who have weathered thick and thin together like old comrades.

In contrast, Alex and Gregor are boss and underling, respectively. Alex has been mentoring Gregor, but the younger man is constantly aware that he should always defer to the older man's directions and leadership. It doesn't mean that he always agrees with what is said or done, and as the hunting trip changes its shape and expands its dimensions, Gregory becomes increasingly comfortable with speaking his mind and manifesting his own destiny.

Crisply photographed by Josua Enblom, capturing the beauty and the terror of the woods, and sharply edited by Philip Bergstorm with a fine-tooth comb, director Sarah Gyllenstierna navigates the film's journey from its comfortable setup into much darker, suspenseful terrain, building a provocative, foreboding atmosphere where anything can happen, but it probably won't be good for everyone.

Hunters On A White Field - Trailer from LevelK on Vimeo.

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Ardalan EsmailiJens HulténMagnus KrepperSarah Gyllenstierna

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