Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: The Hunt (a.k.a. Jagten)

Release date: July 12, 2013 (July 26 in the DC area)
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm
Who to see it with: Someone examining the dangers of misguided, but somewhat rational, panic


The Hunt (originally titled Jagten, which Google translates as "search") is a Danish film about a man struggling to survive a community's hysterical reaction to a terrible accusation. Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a divorcee who works in his small village's kindergarten. A few villagers think that Lucas's work there is a bit odd, but both he and the children seem to greatly enjoy each other's company. Kindergartner Karla seems particularly taken with him, but Lucas's rejection of an inappropriate gesture leads her to retaliate by making disturbing claims to an authority figure. She thinks her comments are mean but silly, unknowingly beginning a dangerous chain reaction that has harsh consequences for her once honorable caretaker. This couldn't come at a worse time considering his new romance and an ongoing fight for custody of his teenage son.
Stories involving such dark themes often unfold like mysteries or focus on the victims, making The Hunt unique in its straightforward focus on a clearly innocent man's living nightmare following his wrongful defamation. Mikkelsen is great as Lucas who attempts, but sometimes fails, to remain calm and stoic in the face of allegations that he finds ridiculous. In America, he is probably best known for his villainous roles in Casino Royale and NBC's Hannibal, but his imposing presence fits the kind but increasingly troubled Lucas well. There's a moment where Lucas reacts unusually harshly toward a loved one, and a few times where his choices of words seem a bit unwise, but his actions generally fit his disbelief that those closest to him can turn against him so easily.
The story mostly avoids melodrama, instead depicting relations between Lucas and the others in a very tense, quietly angry manner. It does a great job of humanizing the village, with much of the first act being a warm, lightly comedic introduction to the town. Watching Lucas's reputation fall due to the villagers' leading questions and assumptions is maddening, but it's understandable that people feel the need to take the side of a seemingly innocent, impressionable child rather than that of a longtime friend and neighbor. It feels like a realistic exploration of the emotions and behavior exhibited by adults after a shocking discovery, and accurately portrays the ways in which adults can wrongly, if justifiably, project their own negative intuitions and experiences onto children. The Hunt is a gripping drama about a man battling the dark side of society's natural, but sometimes misguided, tendency to condemn the accused.

See it.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Lee. A very dark movie, but one that actually has a bit of a hopeful message at the end. One that isn't as hokey or corny as you'd expect.