The Hunt Review

Posted: September 13, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the_hunt_2012Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

One of the more frustrating aspects of being a film fan is looking forward to a smaller film and knowing it’s highly unlikely  the film will make it to your local theater. Something about a small project will catch your attention, but for various reasons the film never makes it to most cinemas. This has happened to me many times and I was worried it would happen again with The Hunt. Though not exactly a film I was dying to see, the fact that Mads Mikkelsen (an actor I’ve always liked) won Best Actor at last year’s Cannes Film Festival certainly had my interest. I had pretty much accepted that I would not be able to see this in a theater, but a recent move led to my local theaters changing and a smaller chain managed to hook me up.

The Hunt takes place in a small town in Denmark and follows Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a former high school teacher who has taken a job at the local kindergarten since the school he taught at has been closed. His life isn’t perfect – he is divorced and fighting to get his son to live with him – but he is well-liked where he works by both the staff and the children and he also has a close knit group of friends he spends a lot of time with. However is life is thrown into chaos when one of his students, in a fit of rage, tells the head of the Kindergarten that Lucas exposed himself to her.

Going into this, I expected the film to be ambiguous about whether or not Lucas did what he is accused of, similar to the film Doubt. This is not the case at all. The audience knows that Lucas is innocent and the movie is not concerned with any mystery. What the film is concerned with his portraying a very detached look at what happens in situations where adults are accused of sexually assaulting children. The film does a very good job at showing how the accusation effects Lucas’ life, but also how it ripples through the rest of the town. This seems a very realistic take on what happens in a situation like this. The result is a film which doesn’t have a lot of surprises, but it does have a sense of authenticity and the drama is effective.

However the detached perspective does come at a price; it leads to one of the film’s weaker points. I’m glad the film doesn’t sensationalize the material, but at the same time the film lacks personality. It’s a bit dry and almost feels like something you’d see on T.V. This is not to say the film is poorly made however. Director Thomas Vinterberg gives the film a very cold look and gives the film a real feeling of reality. The story is also put together in a very slow and deliberately paced way and Vinterberg has put together a pretty good cast. Standouts include Annika Wedderkopp as Lucas’ accuser, and Thomas Bo Larsen as a friend of Lucas pushed away by the accusation.

What really elevates the film though is Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen is best known in North America for villainous roles including the title character on Television’s “Hannibal” and Le Chifre in the James Bond film Casino Royale, and that’s what makes his work in The Hunt so impressive. He has to play a character who others see as a villain, but the audience sees as sympathetic. Mikkelsen does a great job making Lucas likable but also very human. He is a well-intentioned person in an unfair situation but he is still flawed and makes mistakes. It is this sense of fallibility that makes Lucas’ downfall so engaging and dramatic. For most of the film, Mikkelsen needs to carry his pain subtly, allowing the audience to become more engaged with his character before his restraint gradually becomes to slip in the dramatic final third of the film.

Overall, I really liked The Hunt. It’s a well-made film with some good performances and tackles a serious subject matter respectively. Unfortunately the film also lacks personality and it’s straight-forward approach robs the film of ever having that “wow” factor. Still, the film never makes any major missteps and Mads Mikkelsen is so good that I can give this film a solid recommendation.

B+

Comments
  1. le0pard13 says:

    Heard some good things about this film. Fine review, Daniel.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Mads was great in this movie. I know he won’t get an Oscar nomination for this, but it would be totally well-deserved. Good review.

  3. Will have to put it in the Netflix queque. Nice post!

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