LFF 2012: The Hunt | Film reviews, news & interviews
LFF 2012: The Hunt
In Thomas Vinterberg’s blistering drama a fog of doubt sweeps through a small town
Featuring a towering, Cannes-award-winning performance from Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt (Jagten) is a humane and horrifying story of the power of accusation from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen).
Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a kindergarten teacher in a Danish village. Though he’s a natural with the kids and is popular and connected locally, he’s a taciturn, somewhat enigmatic figure whose recent divorce has left him alone and missing his son. When his best friend’s tiny daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) develops a crush on him, his rejection of her causes her to blurt out the most damaging of lies - that he has abused her. To add catastrophic insult, the school’s principal Grethe (Susse Wold) mishandles the matter spectacularly, resulting in a presumption of guilt and even the suggestion that other children have been targeted.
The Hunt highlights the vulnerability of those in the teaching profession to such accusations. It’s a prosaic horror story which puts a small community under a stark microscope. This is a modern day witch-hunt, presented as if it could happen anywhere. Vinterberg's film gets plenty of mileage out of the guilelessness of the catalyst Klara – making a focus of her uncomprehending face, and out of Lucas’ dignity in the face of extreme provocation. There’s never any doubt that he is an innocent man; in fact we are shown quite clearly how the idea formed in Klara’s mind. The Hunt’s strength lies in the potency of the injustice, and the raw cinematic force of Mikkelsen.
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