There are a significant number of people who feel strongly that a film that has (Sir) Patrick Stewart in it can do no wrong. While I willingly admit that I tend to lean that direction for often than not, I went into Hunting Elephants with the naïve and perhaps unfairly cynical suspicion that the film was “using” his name to promote it to American audiences and it left me wondering if it would stand on its own. As it turns out, Stewartians and film lovers alike can rejoice. The film was absolutely delightful from beginning to end, and while Patty was outstanding, this unique take on the crime caper genre with a geriatric spin was heartfelt, superbly witty and would have been a triumph even without our favorite Captain of the Enterprise.
This film is a co-production between Israel and the US and most of the dialogue is in Hebrew with English subtitles. The subtitles do move very fast in places and unlike some films, you really do want to catch every word of that conversation as it’s plot crucial in most places and very often the punch line to a fabulous joke. To that end, there were a number of times I wished I could have rewound simply to see more of the hilarious facial expressions that accompanied the jokes, but I still ended up wanting to take all of them home with me, so I couldn’t have missed all that much.
Actors/Theatre types will particularly enjoy the industry jokes that are generously sprinkled throughout the film and I will say, the Cinequest audience GOT them all, which for me is such a lovely bonus of seeing films with FILM folk. There’s a special energy with the Cinequest audiences that is incapable of replication outside the festival and it truly enhances your viewing of any film tenfold.
If you get a chance to see this one, make it so. It’s a supremely fun ride with some phenomenal onscreen and off-screen talent carrying it. From the editing to the music choices, and the undeniable chemistry of the ensemble to the script it’s precious. 4 ½ winning jewels out of 5 in the review tiara for a sweet, charming, laugh out loud funny, well thought out and expertly put together film. Hunting Elephants has one more screening at the California, Sun March 9th at 9pm.