T H E H U N T
Almost guaranteed to be the 2013 official selection for Denmark’s entry in the 2013 Oscar race, The Hunt is one of the most fascinating and enthralling films of the year. It’s so taut with uncomfortable moral dilemmas that you might want to squeeze a stress ball while viewing. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen took home best actor at Cannes for the role. If you are thinking he looks familiar – he currently plays Hannibal on NBC’s series, was the lead in Denmark’s Best Foreign Film nominee A Royal Affair last year, and was also the James Bond villain in Casino Royale. This is the type of film I yearn for, as it promotes deep conversation, directly stoking the audience for self-reflection in the situations they are exploring.
Divorced kindergarten teacher Lucas (Mikkelsen) is fighting for extended custody of his teenage son Marcus. Nearly once a week his best friend Theo’s daughter Klara(Annika Wedderkopp) strays from her house and needs someone to guide her to school. Known for her vivid imagination due to her OCD disorder, Klara tells the head teacher Grethe (Susse Wold) something very upsetting that is taken for fact. Grethe alerts the parents, other teachers, authorities and dismisses Lucas until further notice. What at first seems like a misunderstanding is ignited into multiple accusations by multiple children, and the entire small town begins threatening and harassing Lucas to the point of him fearing for his life.
“I believe the children; they don’t lie,” says Grethe, defending her inappropriate reaction in spreading the matter to the entire town without evidence or real investigation. The handling and insinuations of the characters will likely have you up in arms early on, and the devastation and intensity only grows throughout the film. There are many things that are explored here, including parental neglect, over-looking mental disorders and what I saw as the biggest issue, negligent protocol on behalf of the school administration. However, the film, written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg, explores one man’s heart breaking ordeal as he has nowhere to turn.
Mikkelsen’s performance here is simply a multifaceted marvel; he often speaks volumes with no dialogue, which is somewhat of a theme in the film. Looking from outside, it’s clear the big problem with the situation and the town regarding this matter is a lack of communication. The excuse everyone uses to blame Lucas in this story is that "kids always tell the truth,” which appears to be a false presumption the whole world over, or just really naive Danes. The Hunt works very honestly to keep you on the edge of your seat, never hinting at the film’s direction. The use of Christmas season, Biblical parallels, and a truly sensitive subject matter make this one of the year’s must see films for anyone who is looking for a high quality, cinematic stunner.
Final Thought – Unbelievable intense, superb filmmaking; An extraordinary performance from Mikkelsen.
By: Dustin Chase