The Hunt (Jagten)

This powerful Danish drama stars Mads Mikkelsen (A Royal Affair) as Lucas, a divorced father, who becomes the target of a close-knit community’s wrath when he’s accused of sexually molesting one of the children at the kindergarten where he works.

Thomas Vinterberg’s provocative film touches on the very difficult and sensitive issue of child abuse and how the fearful, merciless persecution brought to bear by a secluded clannish community on the loathsome individual they believe to be responsible, can sometimes be misguided. 

The story is told from the accused’s perspective as we witness how Lucas becomes the victim of an innocent lie. It’s a dark cautionary tale of how quickly a community can turn against even its most trusted citizens when it comes to protecting children from sexual predators. 

Unable to believe that a child would ever lie or make up such a story, Lucas’ closest friends and family turn against him, while he tries to convince them that no such act ever occurred to no avail. Much like The Fugitive (1993), there is absolutely no tolerance to hear what Lucas has to say, even with his reputation as a well-liked and respected citizen. 

Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas is absolutely riveting as a gentle man rebuilding his life after a divorce and custody battle, who sees his only son and new girlfriend slipping away as his world is completely turned upside down. With everyone quickly turning sinister, he is now a pariah, a social outcast shunned by society. 

Lucas is in fact loved by all the children at the school where he works, especially Klara, the young girl in question, who is his best friend’s daughter and has special needs. Because Lucas is the only one sensitive to her needs, she developed a bond with him, maybe even a crush. But when he rejects a gift she makes for him, she misunderstands and takes it as a personal rejection.

Out of anger she makes up a story about Lucas. Everyone involved seems to do the right thing to protect the girl from further exposure to Lucas but Klara is shocked at how the adults and her parents react so strongly to her claims. Embellished by the adult’s imaginations and fears, they assume the worst before the girl realizes the consequences of what she had said.

It’s scary to realize how powerless we are as individuals when cut off from our social network and the fragility and importance of that social network to our wellbeing. The film’s disturbing but plausible story continues to haunt me long after viewing it as I became aware that a version of this scenario could happen to almost anyone in today’s fearful society.

Lucas, like most of us, really would have no other option but to leave his town and start a new life somewhere else, if it wasn’t for his strong conviction that he has done nothing wrong and hopes that the truth will eventually be revealed. Unfortunately, even if he were able to convince people of his innocence, his life would never be the same as there would always remain some doubt in the back of people’s mind. 

The Hunt (2012) is a thought provoking must-see drama that was nominated in the best foreign film category at the BAFTA Awards and nominated for the Palme D’Or at the Cannes film festival where Mads Mikkelsen’s stunning performance won him the best actor award.



Shiran said...

Excellent Review. Looking forward to seeing the movie. Mads Mikkelsen is a very accomplished actor.

alemap said...

A wonderful review! I'll keep my eyes open for the release of this movie.

S.C Rhyne said...

This a great review and entices me to watch it and see how it all plays out.

Valerie Remy-Milora said...

Thank you for this beautiful review. It does seem to be a "must see" film on a subject that is indeed, quite delicate to broach... It is true that we tend to judge very quickly and even condemn whether merited or not.. The challenge with this topic, is that child sexual abuse happens in these types of situations and most of it goes unreported for a number of reasons... so we must keep that in mind and be vigilant with our children as well. No one deserves to gave their life destroyed by lies, no matter what,

JP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

Yes your right, it's an interesting but sensitive topic for a film to tackle.

I hope you will get the chance to see this film as it's well worth watching.