Raffi Pitts’ face is very much the key to his sophomore film The Hunter, its chiselled features, high cheekbones, and dark, piercing eyes handsome, even attractive. And yet Pitts’ face, which is, conveniently, also the face of his latest film’s protagonist, is impassive, inscrutable and largely expressionless, all of which can be levelled at the film itself. Pitts plays one of those taciturn loners that seem to enjoy roaming around the world cinema landscape of late, a brooding introvert whose criminal record only allows him to work nights, thus practically estranging him from his wife and young daughter, with his hunting trips to the country the only thing to break up the monotony. This deceptively straightforward sounding set-up is presented in a highly oblique, yet most technically accomplished manner: skilfully composed city-scapes, striking sound / image matches between shots being fired and accelerating cars, intelligently employed repetitions and ellipses. All the more disappointing then, that this formal vitality and engaging sense of mystery (it soon emerges that the protagonist’s family situation may not be quite what it seems) slowly and inexorably drains away as the film progresses, the final half hour consisting of a far more prosaic, if still visually interesting thriller in which Pitt’s lack of expression and practical refusal to speak work as an active impediment to either identification or genuine tension. If the casual severity and stark metaphorical potential of the denouement are not to be denied, one can’t help wondering whether a less steely visage and the heightened sense of idenfication that would go with it might have proved more ultimately effective: sometimes just a single smile makes the frown that goes before it all the more alluring.