Film Review: The Hunt

Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a nursery school teacher in a tight-knit Danish village. However, when one of the children accuses him of sexual wrongdoing towards her, the community turns against him. Only his son and a few close friends stand by him as he struggles to clear his name.

Films can elicit myriad emotional responses, be it sadness, happiness, fright, etc. However, The Hunt evoked a response in me that few other films have – anger.

This isn’t a film based on a true story, but it would have come as no surprise if it were, which is hugely depressing. This kind of story crops up in the mass media more and more frequently, and like the film, there seems to be a guilty until proven innocent viewpoint. Everyone’s quick to judge without knowing all the facts, which in the days of social media, is a worryingly frequent trend.

Here, the young girl who made the accusations, Klara, is asked leading questions by authorities who have already decided what they believe, which is massively infuriating to watch. Lucas is a man hounded to the very edge of breaking point, and seeing those he previously considered friends condemning him with nary a second thought is heartbreaking and had me seething at various points throughout.

However, there is always two sides to every coin, and the film does raise some interesting moral dilemmas. It’s easy to look upon such a situation with a neutral eye, but if your child’s teacher was accused of similar indecency, would you be able to keep a level head? It’s almost impossible to answer.

Cinematically, the film succeeds on just about every level. The cinematography is beautiful and everything we’ve come to expect from Scandinavian dramas. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen does a superb job of creating a quaint rural village that becomes increasingly claustrophobic as Lucas’s life collapses.

And then we come onto Mikkelsen’s portrayal of the wronged school teacher. Even when carefree and popular, Mikkelsen’s Lucas is a joy to behold, but when the brown stuff hits the air conditioning and he’s on the ropes, he takes it to another level. One scene in church on Christmas Eve is is shocking and tragic and Mikkelsen hits every note perfectly. There are also a couple of excellent secondary performances from Thomas Bo Larson as Theo, father of the girl Lucas is said to have wronged, and Lasse Fogelstrøm as Marcus, Lucas’s son.

The Hunt weighs heavily on its audience. It’s a hugely emotive topic and one that could have been simply too dark. However, there is still enough optimism in there to keep this from happening. The darkness and futility is punctuated with support from Lucas’s friends and son who act as a glimmer of hope for him. There are a couple of slight plot issues towards the start of the film, but they don’t in any way overshadow what is a truly absorbing piece of cinema – even if I did want to yell at the screen throughout.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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37 thoughts on “Film Review: The Hunt

  1. Great write up. Mads Mikkelsen is a wonderful actor and I bet I would love the film. Glad to hear it’s not too dark. I will put it on the list, thanks to you 🙂

  2. Bloody fucking brilliant film. Mikkelsen is an absolute beast. Terrific write-up!

  3. Been meaning to watch this and you’re great review has only made me want to see it more. Fantastic work Chris.

  4. sati says:

    So glad you liked it! In more fair world Mads would be nominated for Best Actor – he was amazing in this. I was so angry while watching this too – I kept hoping the whole town except for Lucas would be blown up by the end.

    • Haha, that would have been an interesting twist to the story, but I agree, I just wanted most of them to get hurt, especially that big dude who beats down on Marcus. Made me really angry but I love how much emotion it got out of me.

  5. Zoë says:

    I have been meaning to get to this. I really dig Mads Mikkelsen, which was one of the bigger selling points to me.

    Fantastic review!

  6. davecrewe says:

    I seem to have been the only person in the world who watched about two-thirds of this film thinking that the accusations could’ve been accurate!

  7. Mark Walker says:

    Excellent review again Chris. Completely agree here. I also gave it 4.5 and it still stands as my favourite of the year so far.

  8. Nostra says:

    It was an amazing movie and although you know the people are wrong, you know that chances are you would act like them as well. A while after this movie I saw the documentary Witchhunt, which shows people actually having been convicted despite them being innocent. Well worth seeing.

    • Cheers for the recommendation, I’ll look into it. Yeah, it’s a difficult question the film raises – what if it happened to your child? It’s difficult to say you wouldn’t act the same way, which is quite shocking in itself.

  9. CMrok93 says:

    Mikkelsen is amazing in this role. I highly doubt he stands a single chance in the least bit, but I would love to see him get a nomination for this. Just a small one. Good review.

  10. Great review! I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m still kicking myself that I missed it during its short run in theaters here.

  11. ruth says:

    Great review Chris! I gave it the same rating as well. Such a fantastic thriller that really got under your skin. I hope Mads would get some recognition for his performance, at least the film should be nominated in Best Foreign Language. Definitely one of the best films of this year for me.

    • Thanks Ruth! It would be fantastic if he Mads got some recognition, he certainly deserves it. I know Denmark are submitting this as their entry for best foreign film so I hope it gets noticed. It would also be nice for a film to get nominated that was out early in the year, not just on ‘Oscar season’.

      • ruth says:

        Greetings from NYC, Chris! Yeah, I hope this film made the cut as there are sooo many foreign language submissions. But yeah, it certainly deserved to be singled out.

  12. Tyson Carter says:

    High praise. This film seems to get that from everyone. I own it but still not watched it. Lazy. Great write up buddy 🙂

  13. table9mutant says:

    Great review. 🙂 Certainly sounds good but one it would be hard to be in the right mood for watching…

  14. Nice review, looking forward to checking this one out. A sort of similar thing happened to a teacher at my high school. Even after he was exonerated his career was pretty much ruined.

  15. vinnieh says:

    Excellent review, I’ve heard so many positives about this movie.

  16. JustMeMike says:

    Thanks for the informative and sensitive review. This is quite the cautionary tale – a story of something that could happen anywhere, to anyone. Mads was superb, and for me, the fact that the supporting cast were all unknown to me gave the film a greater touch of realism.

    I was fortunate to have seen the film six month ago, at the Sarasota Film Festival and did my review of back then. We both arrived at the same score 4.5 out of 5. Check out my review if you have a chance.

    http://jmmnewaov2.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/the-hunt-day-8-at-the-sarasota-film-festival/

  17. Watching this later in the week! Everyone keeps raving about it, so I’m looking forward to it!

  18. Alex Withrow says:

    Great review. I agree with you, this film dealt with such an emotive topic, it really could have gone either way. But with confident direction and fearless acting, it just soared. Definitely one of the year’s best for me.

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