Confusion, anger and mass hysteria. Director Thomas Vinterberg’s award winning film “The Hunt” follows the life of a kindergarten teacher, Lucas, who struggles to live normally in his city after being wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a child.
“The Hunt” is a Danish drama that brings to life the aftermath of a tarnished reputation. After a messy divorce, being separated from his son and demoted from a secondary school teacher to a kindergarten teacher, Lucas’ life continues to spiral downward after a tall tale from a confused five year-old brings waves of outrage. Even after being wrongly accused of sexually assaulting his best friend’s daughter, Lucas seeks solace in his community and himself, only coming up short with the judgment and anger from mobs of people, including some he used to call his best friends.
The plot itself surrounded something that was hard to grasp. With a subject as sensitve as child molestation, it becomes difficult for any film to carry the story along tastefully. After several filmic flops at the box office, Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindholm were able to progress carefully, without making the film too uncomfortable to watch.
Visually, the film is aesthetically simple. Vinterberg manages to pay homage to the vast landscape of Denmark while keeping the film visually intimate. Vinterberg’s use of close shots humanizes each subject and allows the audience to connect with whoever happens to be onscreen.
One of the most prominent features of this film is the powerful lead performance given by Mads Mikkelsen. He is mostly known for his work as Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale” (2006), and recently found further success as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s “Hannibal.” Within “The Hunt,” however, Mikkelsen shows a different depth of character than most actors bring to their role. Lucas, who is at first a loving schoolteacher, is faced with an impossible amount of negativity, so much so that he briefly becomes caught up in the hysteria around him.
Mikkelsen’s performance, which won Best Actor at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, marks an important milestone in his career, and elevates him from a mildly popular actor internationally into an even better respected actor within the medium as a whole.
Mikkelsen, is also accompanied by the seasoned performances of co-stars Thomas Bo Larsen and Annika Wedderkopp. All of them make for a cohesive ensemble cast to fill larger than expected roles in the film. This movie does not rely solely on its stars or its visuals, but on every cinematic aspect.
The end of the film ties the story neatly together, showing the never-ending struggle that Lucas now has to face as he lives his day-to-day life with his family. It brings about a certain realism that allows the viewer to sympathize completely with Lucas and his family, as well as echo the sentiments of mob mentality.
As a whole, “The Hunt” is a powerful film that is both visually and emotionally striking. Though some scenes move slow and seemed to have little significance, they don’t deter the powerful performances and deep subject matter that move the plot forward. “The Hunt” has won many awards at Cannes, and will hopefully continue to do so, as it finally begins its release in the United States.
RECOMMENDED: Don’t miss out on this powerful Danish drama.