The Hunt * * * * 1/2

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Director: Thomas Vinterberg.
Screenplay: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm.
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelsteøm, Susse Wold, Alexandra Rapaport, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Sebastian Bull Sarning.

There have been a number of films that have addressed the harrowing nature of child abuse; “The Woodsman” is one where Kevin Bacon’s character – just released from prison – admits his guilt, leaving the audience in an almost impossible position in showing any sympathy, whereby John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” left the audience questioning the guilt of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s afflicted priest throughout it’s entirety. This time, Thomas Vinterberg tackles the issue from the point of view of the innocently accused.

Mild mannered, nursery school teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), lives in a small village where he leads a simple life. However, one of his young pupils accuses him of inappropriate behaviour and his life is thrown into turmoil by all around him as he struggles to prove his innocence.

Vinterberg sets his protagonist’s motivations from the off-set. He’s a humble man who is active in the community and seems to have a solid network of friends and a close relationship with his teenage son. To embody this kindhearted soul, Vinterberg chooses wisely in Mads Mikkelsen – who won best actor for the role at Cannes in 2012. Mikkelsen is the type of actor who, having such a unique physical appearance, can perform many different characters. He made a great Bond villain in “Casino Royale” and now confirms that he can completely win you over in a gentler role. He exudes an appealing demeanour that has you fully affectionate towards him and it’s this very affection that has you infuriated at the witch-hunt and complete injustice and turmoil he has to endure. The problem is, there are no bad people in this film. It’s layered and nuanced so well, that even those that choose to abandon and ostracise him are only doing what they believe to be right. As an insider, the audience are privy to all the information and it makes it easy to not just understand Lucas’ plight but to also identify with the shock and grievances that his friends and family have towards him. Quite simply, it’s a film that tears you in many different directions and refuses to let go.
The nature or subject matter of it, may originally put some people off but I can confirm that nothing here is uncomfortably or exploitatively dealt with. It’s entirely honest and innocent and that’s the very thing that it demands the utmost respect for. Vinterberg doesn’t balk from depicting human nature in a cruel or victimised fashion but he cleverly shows restraint in his approach, allowing the actors to deliver the realism and the dangers involved in condemnation through ambiguous gossip.

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A gripping and emotionally draining, social drama that manages to be both provocative and empathetic. Proof, once again, that the Scandinavian output of cinema is at the top of it’s game right now.

Mark Walker

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35 Responses to “The Hunt * * * * 1/2”

  1. I can only agree with what you say. I gave it a 5/5 and it’s one of my favorite movies this year. Like you I think that one of the qualities of it is that it’s so easy to put yourself into the same situation as the father of the assumed victim. As painful as it is to see him treating his former best friend like he does, I can see where he’s coming from and admit that I probably would do the same. When it comes to your children, you’ll do anything.

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    • Thanks Jessica. I definitely considered top marks and, quite honestly, can’t give you a reason why I didn’t. It’s certainly deserving. I just went with my gut instinct.
      Fantastic film that covers all the angles and its most certainly one of the best I’ve seen this year too. If I compile a top ten list at the end of the year, I have no doubt that this will make the cut.

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  2. Nice review. I really want to catch this one soon.

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  3. Great write-up. This is a phenomenal film. It tackles a difficult subject brilliantly – the whole cast are spot on. At times, it does take liberties with jumps in the story and and is sometimes intentionally manipulative – but for me this didn’t make it any less of an achievment. One of the best films of the last few years.

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    • Thanks mark! It definitely does tackle the subject very well. I was a big fan of “Doubt”, which I also thought tackled the subject well but this is probably the best I’ve seen. I didn’t find it too manipulative but I can see where you’re going with that. Like you say, though, it doesn’t hinder the film at. Superb stuff.

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  4. Brilliant review Mark. I’ve had this on my list for some time and I think your review is gonna bump it up somewhat. Heard so many good things about it and I love Mikkelsen, currently enjoying him in Hannibal, so I’m pretty sure I’ll like this.

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    • Cheers Chris! You should bump this up your list. So far, this and The Place Beyond The Pines are the best films of the year for me. I enjoy Mikkelsen as well and he’s outstanding in this film. I’ve yet to check out Hannibal though.

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  5. GaryLee828 Says:

    Didn’t read any of your review yet b/c I really want to see this, and know as little as possible going in, but will definitely come back here to comment after watching; unfortunately, it’s not in the States yet, nor available online, but hopefully it won’t be too much longer.

    Mads Mikkelsen is a phenomenal actor who I think can progress into that top-tier of Hollywood; loved him in “Casino Royale” and felt he helped take the movie to another level; his villain was intriguing and complex and demanded each and every scene on-screen; and when Daniel Craig does the same, you have one hell of a film. “Will you yield…in time?”

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    • Cheers for popping by anyway Gary. I completely understand you not reading it. I do that myself with some movies. Rest assured that its a great one and Mikkelsen is outstanding.
      I hope you’re right on him progressing to the top tier. He’s certainly worthy of it and he’s actually one of my favourite Bond villains. The guy’s brilliant, man.

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      • Okay, I’m back to read your review since I watched this last night. I agree with pretty much everything you said here. I do think the teacher who was over Lucas handled everything completely wrong. People should be given the benefit of the doubt until you can get the stories straight, and then determine if the person of interest is innocent or in-fact guilty. But she determined in her own mind he was already guilty before even given a fair chance to get the facts straight. That would piss me off. And I don’t think I’d go back with that girl at the end, either. I would have moved away if I was Lucas, and never spoken to any of those people again.

        Good movie, but not one I’m in a rush to watch again. The material here is too heavy, and hits too close to reality.

        I do wish they showed Lucas being interrogated at the police station; i think that could have made for some memorable scenes, and given Mads a chance to show off more of his range.

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      • Hey Gary!

        Nice to see you return. I actually forgot you said you would. Thanks dude! A man of your word. 🙂

        Yeah, it’s frustrating and hard-hitting stuff isn’t it? Mikkelsen was absolutely outstanding and if i were him i’d be kicking me some ass. That being said, it’s understandable from the rest of the town folk. They fed a whole bunch of shit and sometimes mud does, unfortunately, stick.

        A police interrogation scene probably would have gone down well, right enough. Just to let Mikkelsen’s talents loose some more.

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  6. I love Mads Mikkelsen, he’s come such a long way since Pusher and Pusher 2. Nice review Mark, looking forward to seeing this in the near future.

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  7. Great work, as always, Mucker! You’ve been watching a bunch of things and giving them high marks. Are you being super selective or just getting lucky?

    Boat Drinks!

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    • If truth be told bro, the only one I’ve actually watched recently was “I’ll Be There”, this film has been lying in my draft folder for a few weeks now, along with many others. I’ve not had much time to watch or review stuff. That’s me just getting around to tidying up stuff I’d started ages ago. I have been fairly selective, though, and most have been working out to be very good.

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  8. YES!!! I gave this one the same rating Mark. Brilliantly nuanced and incredibly suspenseful without resorting to blood and gore. “…there are no bad people in this film” So true isn’t it? The characters aren’t one dimensional which is quite a feat in itself but the story-telling style really gets me. Definitely at the top of the list of 2013 for me.

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    • Nice one Ruth. It’s absolutely superb isn’t it? There are no bad people at all. It easy to identify where they are all coming from and can sympathise with them entirely. One of the best of 2013, you say? I couldn’t agree more.

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  9. I ♥ Mads Mikkelsen. He has an exquisite face and while he stoically stood around in ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘King Arthur’ I really would like to see him in ‘Flame and Citron’. It’s in my queue. Did you like it?

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    • He’s great isn’t he, Cindy? I have to admit that I haven’t seen Flame And Citron but its on my watchlist. I just haven’t got my hands on it yet. The first time I came across him was about 10 years ago in a strange little Danish film called Green Butchers. Since then, I’ve watched him steadily rise.

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  10. This movie kicked my ass and also pissed me off to high heavens. However, it’s all too true in the way that we, as a society, latch onto something that we hear and spell out as “true”. It’s sad, but it’s also brutally honest and I love how the flick explored that idea in both ways. Not just positively, but negatively as well. Nice review Mark.

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    • It seriously had me pissed off at the injustice as well Dan. But, like you say, brutally honest and dealt with perfectly in exploring human behaviour. Such a great movie that works on so many levels and covers all the angles. Cheers, man.

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  11. Very nice write-up and great point at the end there about gossip. You have me intrigued, sir!

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    • Thanks Gene! This one is definitely worthy of attention. It’s one of the best films of the year so far and it perfectly depicts the dangers of a simple tattle-tale.

      By the way, I haven’t forgotten about your “you talkin’ to me” post. I have one person before you but I’ve taken a little break from them just now. Didn’t want to post too many too soon.

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  12. Great review Mark, I’ve heard so many great things about this I must watch it.

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  13. Mads Mikkelsen is a fascinating actor.

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  14. I saw he film quite recently and I was just horrified, the stupidity of the people in this village, especially the headmaster that told everyone of a rumor as if it was a fact was just repulsive. Mikkelsen was fantastic here, that church scene was incredible

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    • Yeah, it was a very frustrating experience Sati. I also found it understandable and very realistic. It’s just an incredible film and Mikkelsen was outstanding.

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  15. I liked your movie callback to Doubt. Some definite similarities there. I agree Mads was flawless. He’s well known as the villain in Casino Royale and Dr. Lecter. in the NBC TV series Hannibal. He’s a good choice because he’s very gentle in behavior, but he “looks” guilty which added to the townspeople view that he is at fault. True there are no bad people in this film. However the investigator that interviewed the little girl asked the most ridiculously leading questions. There was one question (you know the one) that actually elicited several gasps from the crowd at my screening.

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    • Thanks for dropping by Mark. I agree that Mads does look guilty due to his unusual appearance and if there were anyone who could be regarded as less than savoury it would be the actions of the investigator and head nursery teacher for fuelling the suspicions.

      Outstandingly well made movie, though. Top drawer stuff.

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    • I agree with you both about “Doubt”. That scene between Streep and Hoffman towards the end was one of the best acted scenes I’ve ever seen.

      Hobin is totally right. That investigator basically talked for her. The girl wanted to go play and so after realizing denial wasn’t getting her to the playground, just started nodding to get her a different result; then the “adults” are like “Yep! He’s guilty! I knew it!” lol.

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