Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writers: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Producers: Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann, Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 115 min.
Country of Origin: Denmark
There is no arguing the craft on display in Thomas Vinterberg’s small-town, big-drama The Hunt. Mads Mikkelsen turns in the performance of his career (and if you look back on his career so far that is an impressive feat) as Lucas, a volunteer teacher at a kindergarden school who is accused and, later, ritually abused by his own friends & neighbors after one of his students, young Klara (in a fit of childish pique) accuses him of ‘pointing his willie’ at her. The cinematography, all warm and woody prior to the accusation and all white and frigid when the milk is spilt. The supporting characters all play their parts to whip the audience into a conflicting bit of rage at how a) we hate pedophiles and b) how we hate to see others rush to judgement. Sure, it feels OK when we do it.
When I see the Zentropa logo come up in front of a film, my knee-jerk reaction is that the film will be a provocation. After all, Lars von Trier is not only one of the co-founders of the company that deals in that sort of cinema but he created the Dogme95 movement with Vinterberg as well. Their previous film, Dear Wendy, springs to mind as something that is both hysterical and hysterically funny. The Hunt is not that exactly, its satire more sublimated; it aims to tickle a slightly more refined dramatic palette. But it is guilty of leading the witness, both literally in one particular interrogation in the film, and figuratively as it piles on a lot of emotional baggage instead of letting Mikkelsen’s fab performance stand on his own.
Lucas is going through a chilly divorce with custody of his teenage son in the balance, but otherwise he is a ‘head held high, feet on the ground’ sort of guy in town and a central figure in the circle of men (who hunt) in the rural community. In particular, his best friend Theo, who is father of Kayla, has a long standing friendship based partly in male goofing off, but warm and trusting. He is tentatively dating the only non-local (English speaking) woman at the kindergarten school and he seems to have the most fun at the school with the kids. Hell, it’s Christmas! If you’ve watched movies before, then you know where this is going. You will intuitively feel the beats of this story, even as Vinterberg does his best to keep the audience on its toes with weird indicators and ominously misleading bits foreshadowing.
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