The Hunt

The Hunt photo starrating-4stars.jpgThe avant-garde filmmaking movement known as Dogme 95 was started in 1995 by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. Their goal was to focus filmmaking techniques on actual story and performances and eschew expensive special effects. Perhaps The Hunt doesn’t adhere to the strict guidelines of a Dogme film, nevertheless, the emphasis on stark reality and raw human emotion is undeniably present.

In this account a beloved day care worker is wrongly accused of sexual abuse by one of his students. Mads Mikkelsen is Lucas, a teacher who is well liked and has many good friends in the tight close-knit community. The rising star won Best Actor at Cannes in 2012 for his understated work here. Recently divorced, he divides his time between his job and taking care of his teenaged son. Due to a recent school closure he is currently working as a kindergarten assistant to Grethe, another teacher. Then one day a disturbing remark is made to Grethe by one of the kids at the school, a little girl portrayed by incredibly natural young actress Annika Wedderkopp.

Virtually every single scene is compelling. The Hunt creates several vignettes in which the characters deal with each situation as it presents itself. An inquiry between an investigator and a student is a textbook example of how NOT to lead an interrogation. Leading questions and false assumptions exist in abundance. An outburst at the Christmas Eve church service is another slack-jawed moment. But the acting is never given to histrionics. The Hunt shows remarkable restraint when detailing this miscarriage of justice. However at times the tension can be a bit frustrating. You keep wanting Lucas to proclaim his innocence more vehemently. His passivity is aggravating. A altercation in a grocery store is admittedly fascinating, but it is also a display in unwise behavior. Lucas, just step outside and call the police already!

The drama that unfolds is an emotional gut-wrenching slow burn exercise in how an investigation is handled in the worst way possible. We know immediately he is blameless so “did he?” or “didn‘t he?” questions are squelched from the start. In this way we side with Lucas and share in his degradation as he becomes the town outcast. Yet the events are never sensationalized. The director allows the audience to carefully examine how a lie becomes the truth. The script constructs a situation that slowly builds into a realistic tragedy of horrific proportions. Misinterpreted remarks and group hysteria are the recipe of this meticulously constructed screenplay. Co-written by director Vinterberg with Tobias Lindholm, the saga deals with similar themes found in Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible and its depiction of the Salem Witch trials of the 17th century.  Sometimes the rush to judgment would rather deem a person guilty until proven innocent. It’s a cautionary tale that could’ve been set anywhere, including here in the U.S. True to the difficult nature of the film, even the ending suggests more problems are on the horizon. Uncomfortable viewing at its best.

33 Responses to “The Hunt”

  1. GaryLee828 Says:

    I’m gonna come back and read this one after I finally get to view this movie; i have been wanting to see this for a while now, but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Hopefully within another month or two it will be available to rent online…

    Mads Mikkelsen is one of the top-tier actors around; i don’t care what ANYONE says “Casino Royale” was WAY better than “Skyfall” and Mads Mikkelsen played the most intriguing villain in the entire Bond franchise; his expressions – and those subtle glances with eyes harboring an underlying evil; and then Daniel Craig being able to match his intensity! “Casino Royale” is not only the best Bond film, but it’s in my top 10 all-time favorite movies; and part of it is due to Mikkelsen’s immaculate villain performance (and Craig’s equally immaculate hero performance).

    I love the line when Le Chiffre says to Bond: “Will you yield…in time?”

    Just something about the intensity of the moment.

    “Casino Royale” is one of the very few scripts that I feel is near flawless.

    But anyway, I can’t wait to see “The Hunt” and then read your review and let you know what I think. 🙂 *I also owe the other Mark (Walker) a visit back to his review of this movie, as well.


    • Mads is really starting to build a name for himself. I agree as evil villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, he was extremely memorable. The NBC TV series Hannibal has raised his profile considerably in the U.S. However the role that really sticks out in my mind is as the German doctor in 2012’s A Royal Affair. I never got around to writing a review for that film, but I highly recommend it.


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        Okay, I see that it’s on netflix instant, so I added it to my queue; however, as much as some movie-buffs may hate to hear me say this, I generally do not like period pieces. I know they are some that get the most acclaim, and awards, etc. but I usually find most of them dull. I guess that’s why I’m not a Keira Knightley fan. lol. I also don’t like many action or sci-fi films, either.

        Of course there are always exceptions, so I’m open to giving any genre a chance, but period-pieces, action and sci-fi are genres I typically don’t like.

        Oh, and musicals, too! lol.

        Films I’ve never seen: Grease – any Fast & Furious – any Star Wars or Star Trek – any Harry Potter

        I just saw “Die Hard” for the first time last year. lol. And I only gave in to see it once I learned the great Alan Rickman was the villain. I did think the film was pretty good overall, but there were other action films that came out around that same time I thought were WAY better like “Predator” and “Robocop”.

        I’ve never seen Lethal Weapon, either.

        So, I guess you find this surprising considering how much I liked “Man of Steel”, but one reason I loved MOS was b/c of Zimmer’s score that just amplified the film and took it to another level; and then seeing Michael Shannon as General Zod. Although the role wasn’t as meaty as I had hoped for Shannon, it was still amazing seeing him in that kind of role and play such a complex villain. And I thought Henry Cavill was a great choice for Superman. I do agree that the writing could have been stronger, but I still throughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait until the DVD comes out so I can watch over and over the scene where Michael Shannon vows to find Kah-el and is then imprisoned as Zimmer’s score blasts over Shannon as he’s being frozen. I think that was the best scene of the film.

        Anyway, sorry I went off-subject there. lol.


      • Well A Royal Affair is a period piece so I guess you may not enjoy it.

        So you don’t like action, sci-fi, and musicals as well?! Wow what’s left? lol


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Comedy, Drama, Romance! 🙂

        And I will watch an action if it’s intriguing and gritty, but unfortunately most action flicks seem way too far-fetched, formulated and recycled; they all seem the same. “Olympus Has Fallen” and “White House Down”. “Oblivion” and “After Earth” and “Elysium” just to name a few.

        Now, when “District 9” was released I went out and watched opening weekend b/c that felt like something more unique and original, and it was; it had a lot of heart, and it may sound funny to the ears but heart is what makes any action movie good – and I think that’s why so many fail b/c they’re more fixated on the actual action than the heart. “Robocop”, “Terminator 2”, “Lionheart” and “I, Robot” are all great examples of action flicks driven with heart, and it’s no coincidence they’re excellent films while so many others merely imitate and fall flat.

        And I will give “A Royal Affair” a chance; not saying I haven’t liked any period pieces ever, but most of them feel dull to me. But watching guys like Daniel Day-Lewis, Christoph Waltz and Mads Mikkelsen perform can make it interesting. And yes, I am putting Mads in the same tier as those two elite actors!! 🙂

        And you know what else, come to think of it (since we discussed “Trance”) I think James McAvoy is going to be in that tier in the near future! He may be the greatest late 20’s/early 30’s actor around currently – along with Ben Whishaw, who is nothing short of phenomenal.


      • GaryGreg828 Says:

        Okay, after seeing Ex Machina and looking up Alicia Vikander’s resume, I saw she starred with Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair, which is the film you recommended for me nearly 2 years ago! lol. I watched it a couple days ago and did think it was really good.

        But why is Alicia Vikander getting typecast into playing the same types of roles? 1700’s Queen of Denmark. Futuristic Cyborg. She should play a wide variety of roles like Shailene Woodley! 🙂

        As I was watching A Royal Affair, I just kept thinking how different Alicia’s character was from Ex Machina, and what a tremendous talent she is.

        Actually, come to think of it, the Queen and Cyborg roles do have a great similarity; both those characters were basically imprisoned. Sure, she was Queen, but she still felt like a prisoner, not much different from Ava. 🙂


      • She was in Anna Karenina as well. I didn’t actually realize I had seen her before until I looked her up on after watching Ex Machina. I thought she looked familiar. Just didn’t know why. 🙂


  2. Good review Mark. This movie really hits you like a ton of bricks, but not because it’s disturbing in the way the people react, but because of how realistic it all is. So realistic in fact, that it almost feels like it could happen to any of us, at any given time, when and if bad luck ever comes our way. Pretty scary if you think about it.


  3. God this a great review Mark. I really really am anxious to see this now. I say anxious because I am compelled already by how good it appears, but with how tense and so unconscionable the others sound who surround our lead character here, I’m not so sure I want to put myself through it. . . maybe I’m being dramatic.


    • I suggest that the people around Lucas don’t seem “unconscionable” exactly. They are trying to do the right thing, but because we know the whole story, we can see where they have acted overzealously in their attempt to NOT be negligent. Surprisingly this behavior is possibly even more pernicious.


  4. Great review Mark. I absolutely loved this film. Yes, it was extremely uncomfortable viewing but essential nonetheless. It’s possibly my favourite movie of the year, so far.


    • That would be a strong choice. A powerful film.

      P.S. Welcome back my friend! Always a pleasure when you comment.


      • Yeah, sorry for my lack of activity Mark, now that I’ve taken a bit of time out from writing, I’m able to spend a little more on blogs that I always intend to visit but just never find the time. Still looking good over here, though. Keep it up, my man. I’ll try to drop in more often. 🙂


      • Ok sounds good. I’ll try and do the same! 🙂

        P.S. Sorry my response is so late. Your comment wound up in my SPAM folder for some reason and I didn’t see it until now.


      • Damn, Spam folder. It’s funny how they allow one comment and not another. 😦


      • I don’t know about you, but I get a TON of Spam comments. I’m talking hundreds every week. It makes it hard to sort through them. The filters are generally good so it’s tempting to just empty the whole folder to save time. However every once in a while a genuine comment inexplicably ends up in that folder.


    • GaryLee828 Says:

      Hey Mark W., I just wrote to Mark H. on here how I still hadn’t been able to see this one yet, and that when I do I have to go back and revisit your review of the film, as well as his. Hopefully it won’t be much longer before this becomes available to me. 🙂


  5. Great review, Mark! This is high up on my watchlist, as I loved Vinterberg’s Festen, another example of “uncomfortable viewing at its best”.


  6. This was a very intense and emotionally draining movie. I felt so bad for Mads’ character. The acting was great and story was well told. Little girl was cute and convincing. It was very good. 4 stars


  7. Very uncomfortable viewing, no doubt. But still, I thought this was a great film. I agree that every single scene was extremely compelling. Great review here.


  8. Was a great movie. There is also a documentary on this subject called Witch Hunt and is worth checking out. There were people actually jailed while being innocent.


  9. GaryLee828 Says:

    Okay, I finally found a link and watched this last night. This is one of those films that sparks a lot of outrage and hits a little too close to reality. I worked daycare a few years back, and when one of the students was bent down underneath this power box, I pulled him away from it to ensure he didn’t pop-up and slice his head open on one of the four pointy corners, and when I did so he slipped back and lost his balance and fell (it was on a playground on sand, so it was a soft, harmless landing) and then a student told the boy’s mom I pushed the boy down. That pissed me off. I immediately explained what happened to his mom, and the other teachers, and after a couple days they dropped the incident b/c they realized I was telling the truth and the child misinterpreted what she saw. No way was I going to let some 5 year-old bury me with a lie. This is the kind of shit that makes people not want to work with kids, nor aspire to be a teacher. All it takes is one lie, innocent or not, to completely ruin a person – especially a male.


  10. Alexander Says:

    This movie was so engrossing. Flawed, but engrossing. So glad the Academy managed not to look over it, and I hope it doesn’t lose to La Grande Bellezza as it did at the Golden Globes.


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