By: Shannon Page
Hunting Elephants certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. There are a few laughs sprinkled throughout, but don’t go into this film expecting a passive movie going experience.
The film boasts an impressive international cast that includes Iraqi-born actor Sasson Gabai (who audiences may recognize, or not, from his role in 1988’s Rambo III), Moni Moshonov of Israel, as well as the incomparable Patrick Stewart as a struggling English actor looking for enough money to stage a production that he hopes will save his career. Eighteen-year-old Gil Blank also delivers an impressive performance in his first role in a major feature film as Yonatan, a brilliant but socially-inept twelve year old living in Jerusalem.
After witnessing his father’s death, Yonatan befriends his estranged grandfather (Gabai) and great uncle (Stewart). The three decide to rob a bank in order to solve their financial struggles. Though the premise may seem weak, Hunting Elephants spends enough time establishing its characters and their situation that the far-fetched plot doesn’t interfere with the audience’s ability to genuinely connect with the characters on the screen.
When all is said and done, however, Hunting Elephants seems to be confused as to what sort of film it wants to be. Comedy, drama and crime are genres that have proven to mix well in the past, but here the recipe is off. The problem is the documentary-style interviews with both major and secondary characters that are scattered throughout the film. The mockumentary genre can be one of the most enjoyable to watch when it’s done correctly, but Hunting Elephants doesn’t commit to using it as a frame for the film as whole and the result is less effective than it otherwise could be.