Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelson, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp
Rating: 93% Fresh
Views: 1st Viewing
Thomas Vinterberg, uncredited director of the highly acclaimed and groundbreaking Dogme 95 film Festen, has done it once again. The Hunt is his latest effort, and it’s certainly one for the ages. The film follows Mads Mikkelsen’s Lucas, a quiet, mostly-single schoolteacher working with young children in what seems to be a pre-school of sorts. The film follows Lucas’ life as he plays with the children, befriends a woman at his school, and goes hunting and drinking with his long-time friends. After a pivotal moment in the film, Lucas’ world is turned completely upside down, and things will never, ever be the same for him. After his best friends daughter lies about the man, Lucas is accused by the head of the school of extreme behaviour with one of the children he teaches, and eventually ousted by his community. He is no longer welcome to teach, to go to the grocery store, or to see his young son who is in the care of his ex-wife. Lucas and members of his family try proving him innocent to the locals, but some are more stubborn than others.
The Hunt is one of the most gripping and gut-wrenching dramas to be released in 2013, making it easily one of the best and most important films of the year thus far. The film deals with the subjects of pedophilia, gang mentality, and the idea of a man being “guilty until proven innocent” with the utmost care, never exploiting its subject for even a moment. The sensitive and provocative writing by Vinterberg and co-writer Tobias Lindhom (2012’s A Hijacking) is without a doubt one of the highlights of The Hunt, and something that ties the film perfectly together. Thomas Vinterberg’s direction in the film is incredible, with every scene demanding a different style of camera movement and atmosphere. The way Vinterberg moves his camera in some moments is almost Terrence Malick-esque, and his still and close-up shots feel incredibly personal, but never intrusive. Vinterberg’s writing and direction are some of the best I’ve seen all year, but aren’t even the highlight of this amazing film.
Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the schoolteacher Lucas is incredible in every sense. Mikkelsen has always been regarded as a talented actor, but The Hunt is the role where this was confirmed without a shadow of a doubt. Lucas’ character is one who is confused, scared, and hurt by the behaviour of his former friends and acquaintances. Mikkelsen has many beautiful moments where not a word is said, and incredibly commanding and powerful moments when they are called for. The supporting cast, specifically Thomas Bo Larsen as Lucas’ best friend and father of the young girl and accidental accuser, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), is every bit as amazing as Mikkelsen is here. Theo is a confused and devastated father of a girl who may have been abused, and he is perfect in every moment he has on screen. Mads Mikkelson and Thomas Bo Larsen show just how amazing their chemistry is in the many scenes they share, and are without a doubt the highlight of The Hunt.
The Hunt is an incredibly powerful and emotional experience, and because of that it’s one of the most provocative and important films of the year 2013, and of the 2010’s in general. The film deals with incredibly difficult subjects like gang mentality and extremist behaviour, making the audience feel sick to their stomach for the acts being perpetrated on screen. These elements make the film a very mature and thought-provoking experience, and that may not be for everybody. The writing, direction, and acting are all impeccable, making The Hunt the best film of the year so far without a doubt. If you’re interested in a tense, gripping, highly emotional film, look nowhere else. The Hunt is my favourite film of the year so far, and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anybody. 9.5 (9.75)/10.