Film Review : The Hunt (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 93%
#136 on IMDB Top 250

Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival – Mads Mikkelsen
Palme d’Or Nominee – Thomas Vinterberg

Directed By – Thomas Vinterberg
Starring – Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport, and Lasse Fogelstrøm

A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son’s custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.

I picked a bad set of films to watch back to back.

This was fantastic. Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg crafts a simple and yet maddeningly complex tale of a lie traveling further than it ever should. The story centers around Lucas (Mikkelsen) who is dealing with a custody battle over his son and a new job at a kindergarten. Through the mind and maturity of a six year old comes a lie of momentous proportions and the repercussions of that lie. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I say that the lie has to do with pedophilia.

The story reads like an episode of Law and Order: SVU. That’s not the driving force behind this film. One of them is Mads Mikkelsen but we’ll get to that in a minute. The driving force behind this film is knowing the truth. We’re told Lucas is innocent from the beginning and we’re taken along the ride with Lucas as he goes through the inevitable motions. These motion are not pretty. They are dark and lonely. It’s such a delicate subject that we still haven’t figured out how to deal with it as a society. Do we automatically believe the children? Their minds are still trying to comprehend the rest of the world. They can’t be tried for crimes yet can completely shatter the lives of innocent people. Does that mean we can’t listen to them? I’d say 99 times out of a 100 those children are telling the truth, but how do we know? We go through the motions and try to collect evidence and most often than not put evil people behind bars. What about the one? What about the one who is innocent? It doesn’t matter if the evidence proofs he isn’t guilty. Rumors spread like plague and reputations can sometimes never recover. Victims of wrongful accusations as serious as this are literally deer in the sights of every single person with knowledge of such accusations, and they all have rifles. The Hunt is about just that, a hunt of a target. Whether that target is guilty or not, it’s not going to stop the hunt. There will always be a hunter.

Mads Mikkelsen, who is not often asked to play a character who demands our sympathy, is mesmerizing in his role as Lucas. It’s a powerful performance that really can’t be described due to how important it is to look into his eyes on every take. They tell the story. They tell the emotion. The supporting cast was perfect in every way they needed to be. The children, particularly the accuser all help turn this disturbing yet simple tale into something special. It’s a character study on the human psyche when faced with a determined evil. It’s an important film albeit difficult to watch. It’s beautifully shot in the forests of Denmark and will most certainly be receiving awards recognition. Mikkelsen gives one of the performances of the year and the film itself is in my top ten. I just need to think about how far it will travel.


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