Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrom, Alexandra Rapaport
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Synopsis: 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.
The Hunt, or “Jagten” to give it it’s Danish name, is a fantastic film on many levels. It is almost a cross between Straw Dogs, The Lovely Bones and one of those Scandinavian Cop shows that are so popular nowadays.
Lucas, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is a kindergarten teacher, living alone following his divorce. The children at the school all think he is fantastic. He gets on with his fellow teachers, has a great group of friends and even has a potential love interest in his sights. The only downside is his ex-wife not giving in to his wish to see his son.
Lucas strikes up a particular friendship with little Klara, the young daughter of his best friend Theo. In Klara’s world, Lucas is the best thing ever. He is happy to walk her to school when her parents are arguing and lets her walk his dog. Klara innocently kisses Lucas and makes him a gift, which is enough to unsettle him. He sweetly declines the gift, but this proves to be a terrible mistake. Klara takes offence and like children tend to do, tells a lie. One which changes Lucas’ life upside down.
The Hunt is a story about the implications of an innocent little lie, the ramifications spreading far and wide. It is about the implosion of friendships when a seed of doubt has been planted. Lucas goes from hero to zero rapidly. Most of his friends turn on him without any real evidence to back up the young girls claims. They simply choose to believe her over him. The harder Lucas tries to plead his innocence the worse his situation becomes.
The film is perfect in setting up the situation and then slowly letting it unravel until it explodes into violence. It makes it clear, even when everything seems to have been righted, that some believe there is never smoke without fire (the final scene is a stroke of genius in that regard).
I had waited so long to see this film having read so many glowing reviews about it, and I can’t say I was disappointed at all. I thought the premise, the performances (particularly, as usual, by Mikkelsen) and the direction were second to none and I would recommend it to anyone.