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The Hunt

The Hunt

Released 30 November 2012
Director Thomas Vinterberg
Starring


Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bø Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Susse Wold
Writer(s)

Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Producer(s)

Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann
Origin Denmark
Running Time 115 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 15A
88

Powerful.

It seems that in the last five or so years, more than ever before, the ugly truth about the existence of paedophilia has exploded into the public eye – particularly in Ireland and more recently in the United Kingdom. Of course, most of these allegations are of decades rather than simply years past, suggesting that the epidemic has been masked by a widespread silence for far too long. However, with the increasing influx of shocking revelations there is the undeniable possibility of becoming too naive to the reputed folly of others. The Hunt is a powerful, tense and upsetting look at how a community can be fuelled by the spiralling sound of gossip, to the ultimate demise of an innocent man.

Lucas, played by the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen, is a regular guy beloved by many in his small Danish village, just recovering from the breakdown of his marriage and the loss of his job. When he finds work again at a local kindergarten, begins seeing one of his co-workers and has the prospect of a renewed relationship with his teenage son, his stock seems to be on the rise. That is until Klara, a young daughter of his best friend Theo, develops a crush on him that escalates into her wrongly claiming that Lucas exposed himself to her. As the rumours viciously spread, the tactless disdain towards finding the truth transforms into a public witchhunt on Lucas' life.

Essentially, this film is about how lies can quickly be considered as fact with seemingly complete disregard by a community to what genuinely did or did not happen, as well as the perturbing power of suggestion on a child's mind. Even when Klara admits that she made the whole thing up, her mother convinces her that her turnaround is at the hands of an ugly repressed memory.

A superb cast acts the varying degrees of emotion with delicate accuracy. Lucas' innocence is made all the more harrowing as his, what would be understandable, aggression at the defamation is few and far between. The confusion and vulnerability of both Klara and Lucas' son Marcus is portrayed with particular poignancy while the ferocious rage of the townspeople ironically represents the true evil of the story. Indeed, it is something that many viewers may not be able to stomach.

Having mainly seen Mikkelsen play more stiff, cold-natured characters – Casino Royale and this year's A Royal Affair come to mind – his warm-hearted, charismatic portrayal of Lucas truly represents his range as an excellent actor, supported by his victory in the Best Actor category at the Cannes Film Festival. In the immediate aftermath of the annual Halloween season, psychological drama The Hunt is as chilling as any horror you'll see this year.

- David Caulfield