REVIEW: The Hunt (“Jagten”)
Foreign Drama with subtitles
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm
No one likes a liar. We’ve been taught from an early age that lying gets you nowhere and that telling a lie usually ends up getting you in more trouble than telling the truth. Now we all know that kids say the darndest things. In fact, their imaginations are so out there that television capitilized on just that with a program, host by Bill Cosby, under the same name. Sometimes they’ll say something believable, sometimes not. I don’t have children, but I would have a tough time not believing my child if one day she came up to me and said that she was exposed to her teachers private parts. Yes I just went there, and so does THE HUNT.
Directed masterfully by Thomas Vinterberg THE HUNT is a movie going experience that stays with you long after it fades to black. The story takes place in rural Denmark in a small town where everyone knows everyone. We are introduced to a close group of life-long friends who test eachothers manhood by jumping into a freezing cold pond. Here we learn who’s who, but more importantly we learn how each of the main characters views their friendship. Times are tough, so much so, that Lucas, played brilliantly by Mads Mikkelsen can only find part-time work in the towns daycare. It’s clear that Lucas is great at what he does and that he is beloved by the children he works with, especially Klara – the daughter of Lucas’ best friend Theo.
Over the course of the first act Klara develops a childhood crush on her daycare instructor because of a growing trust in him. And one day in daycare when opportunity presents itself she builds up enough courage to lay a kiss on his lips. Right away Lucas stops her actions and explains to her, in the most calm way possible, that kissing is for adults. This does not sit well with the child, and later that day, when all the children are ready to go home, Klara sits in the dark until she's confronted by the daycare’s supervisor. It is during this interaction that THE HUNT begins to take you on an emotional rollercoster ride, without ever letting you off.
Klara tells the supervisor a lie. It’s clearly a lie and we, as the audience, know this. Even worse, we understand the consiquences that are about to unfold for Lucas because of it. Protocol must be followed, Lucas is told to take a few days off without being told why, and parents are alerted that there could be a strong case of child abuse within the classroom. With the town being small, the news spreads like a wildfire and an eventual witchhunt begins. Everyone is quick to lable Lucas a child molestor without proof of it, just the word of Klara, one of his students in daycare.
Through the eyes of the towns folk Lucas has commited a wrong. The town decides to believe Klara and reject that Lucas is one of them. At a young age not only are we taught about the consiquence of lying, but we’re also taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. Through out the rest of THE HUNT this universal theme is explored and nevermore haunting than at its conclussion.
You may not of heard of THE HUNT, but you will as it’s Denmark’s official Foreign Language Film selection for the 2014 Academy Awards. Furthermore, it had great success at Cannes, winning prizes for both its star, Mads Mikkelsen, and its director.
Now you have two choices after reading this article – you can decide to watch the film, or you can decide not to. I could tell you that you shouldn’t, but I can’t because then I’d be lying.