The Hunt (2012), a Phenomenal Danish Film: Movie Review

by Mira

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg of Festen fame, with magnificent performances from Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp and others, The Hunt is an exceptional film.

I saw the Danish film Jagten / The Hunt (2012) a few months ago at the mall and it was stunning, reminding me of another Danish film I watched recently, called In a Better World (2010). Different directors, different stories and approaches to filmmaking, and yet there was something highly intriguing about both movies, which made me want to learn more about both Denmark and its cinema.

Jagten / The Hunt (2012) was directed by Thomas Vinterberg, who also co-wrote the script with Tobias Lindholm. I think that with the help of the three exceptional protagonists, they did a phenomenal job. The cinematography is also brilliant. Light is used subtly and beautifully to explore shades and intensities of feeling.

The extraordinary star of the movie was Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role of Lucas, a kind-hearted and much-loved, yet somewhat seclusive nursery teacher. Thomas Bo Larsen, as his friend Theo, and his five-year-old daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), who sets the events in motion, were also unforgettable.

There were great performances, as well, from everyone else in Lucas's circle of male buddies, from Lucas’s son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm), and even the men in the convenience store scenes. All of this acting highly contributes to making this movie a masterpiece. The only actor that didn’t convince me 100% was Lucas’s love interest Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport). It was all that kept this movie from being “perfect.”

I’ll try not to reveal too much, but rest assured that even if you go watch The Hunt knowing the gist of the story (as I did), the spoilers cannot diminish the impact of the movie by much.

The Hunt (2012)
The Hunt (2012)
See next image for a link to DVD

The ride downhill starts at the kindergarten, with the staff and one psychologist talking to Klara. Then her parents talk to her. I’ll let you discover all the angles in the movie. They’re exceptionally presented. Thomas Bo Larsen as Klara’s father, Theo, was superb as the man torn between his loyalty and trust in his best friend Lucas and his love and loyalty to a daughter he perceives to have been so horribly abused.

The mass psychology was also spot-on, with all those peace-loving and rational men and women turned into a raging lynch mob where the hysteria accumulates to such a degree that it seems that no one can block it in order to think about the matter for himself/herself.

It’s quite stunning, as I said in the beginning. Go see it! Or I should say "do" see it, since it's not in theaters anymore.

You just can’t imagine the force of sentiments unleashed in a whole community and the blows raining on one man by one false accusation, and how there seems to be no way out of the mess.  

The movie is a constant surprise from beginning till end despite the fact that you know full well that the story can only go in one direction – and here comes the spoiler – once the wheels of Lucas’s small community are set adrift by Klara’s allegation that Lucas is a pedophile. Of course, all hell breaks loose, as people can’t imagine children would lie about sexual abuse. What’s worse, not having the notion that lying is a possibility in such a case, they act in a way that only makes it worse for everyone (including the girl), not leaving much leeway to Lucas to convince the community that he is innocent.

Instant Video of The Celebration, a 1998 film by Thomas Vinterberg, starring The Hunt's Thomas Bo Larsen
The Celebration

I read in one review that the script draws on transcripts of police interrogations in various cases involving pedophiles – cases from Denmark, other European countries, or the US. As for this particular story, it’s “fully fiction,” as director Thomas Vinterberg told reporters at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Speaking of Cannes, The Hunt won there three awards, including Best Actor for Mads Mikkelsen. It also won Best Screenwriter at the 2012 European Film Awards, Best International Independent Film at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards, Roger’s People’s Choice Award for director Thomas Vinterberg at the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival, among other wins and nominations.

So, in short, do watch this movie. I know I will order soon After the Wedding (2006), a movie directed by Susanne Bier (who also directed the second Danish film I mentioned in the beginning, In a Better World), starring The Hunt’s Mads Mikkelsen, and Festen / The Celebration, the movie that marked director Thomas Vinterberg’s arrival on the international film scene in 1998. The Celebration stars The Hunt's Thomas Bo Larsen.

DVD of The Celebration (1998), with Thomas Bo Larsen, directed by Thomas Vinterberg
The Celebration
$14.98  $7.31
DVD of After the Wedding (2006). With The Hunt's Mads Mikkelsen
After the Wedding
$8.87  $4.88
Updated: 06/22/2013, Mira
 
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Mira on 09/18/2015

Oh, I don't remember exactly, but I know the other actors were very expressive in a restrained way. She was more of a pleasant feminine presence, if I remember correctly.

Yes, Scandinavian cinema is excellent. I recently saw another really good movie, directed by Susanne Bier, called A Second Chance. The first half seemed to drag on, but then the second half made clear the reasons for which the first half was directed as it was. Very, very good film.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/18/2015

Mira, The Scandinavian cinema in general does not seem to be well known outside of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. It's a shame since the films, literature, and music with which I'm familiar invariably bring different perspectives and generally reach high levels of expression and impact.
What is about Alexandra Rapaport that does not quite work in "The Hunt"?

Mira on 11/03/2013

Thank you for your comment, Emma! Yes, I still remember the light in that film. I'm sure you would enjoy this movie!

Guest on 11/02/2013

Mira, Two statements in your interesting review have my attention.
"Light is used subtly and beautifully to explore shades and intensities of feeling."
"Of course, all hell breaks loose, as people can’t imagine children would lie about sexual abuse."
Directors and cinematographers who tell stories and convey atmosphere and emotions via the use of light fascinate me. Light is what draws me to paintings, and so a film which incorporates light into its fabric is a special gift.
Not having seen this film or even having heard anything about it, I'm guessing that perhaps false accusations are derived from lies told by children. It is difficult to imagine that children would tell outrageous, devastating lies because the innocence of children is such a stereotype. Nevertheless, the extent to which children will lie and continue to lie was proven tragically by the late 17th century witch trials in Massachusetts.
I am adding "The Hunt" to my list of "to-see" films. Thank you.

Mira on 06/08/2013

You're welcome, Treathyl! Thank you for stopping by!

cmoneyspinner on 06/08/2013

Thanks for the suggestion. I like foreign films. I'll keep this in mind.

Mira on 06/07/2013

Wow! Thank you so much, Catana!

Guest on 06/07/2013

Thanks for this review. I'd seen the movie mentioned somewhere, but had forgotten about it. Mads Mikkelsen is an amazing actor. He came to my attention for his role in Casino Royale, and I've watched a few of his films in which he's the lead. I'd recommend After the Wedding and, for anyone who enjoys unusual and mysterious films, Valhalla Rising, in which he never says a word. In fact, there's very little dialogue at all. It's one of those films that people either hate or love.

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