The Hunt / Jagten / 捕猎 / 誣網 (2012) – Denmark

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 7th March 2013
In cinemas Hong Kong from 16th March 2013

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Annika Wedderkopp

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This is a thought-provoking film that talks deeper issues in the human condition and revokes the memories of the witch-hunt days, the McCarthy era and the Communist regime. A wise person once said, “lie will become the truth once it is told many times, no matter how unbelievable the circumstances may be.” Such is the premise that Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt” flirt and touches upon the deepest fear in humanity, issues of trust and effects of large masses of hysteria. 2012 has been a fantastic year of Danish films on international scale and charismatic lead actor Mads Mikkelsen, winning the Cannes Film Festival coveted Best Actor actor for “The Hunt” and gaining international recognition through the Oscar nominated “A Royal Affair”. This a powerful film and hallowing tale on how a simple innocent lie by a child claiming that her teacher molested her became a widespread hysteria and how it can destroy people, career and life.

Mads Mikkelsen is simply outstanding as the victim of being wrongly accused of molesting a child in a country town where everyone knows everybody. Despite being acquitted of his crimes, the town people grew absolute hatred of the man and seemingly destroyed the man’s life, career, relationships, son, friends and pet (literally). Mikkelsen is successful in never disclosing too much about himself and there is a quiet determination about him that makes the film works like thriller. He never admits to the crime, nor truly denies it, thus keeping the audience at the edge of the seat, even though, deep down, we can feel the angst and pride of the man, trying to regain his reputation against all odds. This is perhaps a direct commentary on the effects on people and how lies can spread like Chinese whisper to an unprecedented level of hysteria. What makes the film so engaging is that Mikkelsen is easily a character the audience want to root for as every difficult of his road redemption is met with public disgrace. It is something that can happen to anyone and the issue could have been anything and as a result, the film plays on this exact fear within the audience’s mind and succeeds. Thomas Bo Larsen provides excellent support as the father of apparently molested child and best friend of the accused. He is given a difficult role as he is torn in the midst of believing his best friend and the protection of his family. The reconciling scene near the end from the moment Mikkelsen’s deadpan stare into Bo Larse’s eyes, words need not be spoken.

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg does not try to exaggerate the situation, not does he resort to melodramatic techniques, but rather he choose to show the events and happens and how Mikkelsen’s deals with such an incident. This could easily have been a witch-hunt or even a regular in the McCarthy era, but in the end, it is about the accused becoming the victim and how easily a community of people can draw to conclusions. It also put questions in society onto how much we should trust a child’s words and what if they are telling the truth. It is a important issue within society, human nature and also the consequences of believing and non-believing can be absolutely frightening. As a result, people choose to believe what they fear the most in order to feel comfort within themselves. Vinterberg draws strongly on those fears and what we get is “The Hunt”.

All in all, “The Hunt” is an outstanding film in the depiction of a relevant concern and the flow of events and aftermath of such an incident. Molesting a child is a dead serious issue and absolutely disgusting to imagine and like witch-craft back in the days, it is precisely condemned and frown upon by members of community. “The Hunt” simply works because it is thoroughly engaging and the audience are kept in the closet as the story unfolds itself with one surprise after another. It is an effectively paced film that makes the most of Mikkelsen’s character acting, the relationship between father and son and the interactions within the community of people. There are films that entertain and there films that informs the audience about a situation and a human condition and the latest Danish extravagant is both entertaining and informative. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 9/10

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