The Hunt: Review

December 29, 2012 12:00 pm

Although The Hunt is set during the Christmas period in an idyllic Danish village, where men swim in frozen lakes before going off to hunt, only to finish it off with a drinking binge and good-natured machismo, you wouldn’t be advised to pack up all your belongings and join this unspoiled lot just yet. It will take but ‘a random lie’ to spin this community into hysteria and judgement.

The Hunt

Movie Poster for Vinterberg’s ‘The Hunt’.

Thomas Vinterberg’s latest feature is a story about Lucas (excellently portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen most familiar as Daniel Craig-era Bond villain Le Chiffre), a beloved member of the community – both by his hunting companions and their children who he teaches in the local nursery school. However, when Lucas’ best friend’s daughter Klara makes up a story in a moment of spite, the headmistress Grethe all too eagerly jumps at the accusation of abuse in an act of bureaucratic back-covering and a tinge of self-righteousness, leading Klara on to confirm her worst thoughts. Playing on parents’ fears for their children, this tight community turns into a lynch-mob with Lucas as its prey.

It is Lucas’ reaction to this that makes The Hunt so pleasing to watch. Don’t expect to see forceful police interrogations or courtroom shenanigans – at the heart of the which-hunt is the man whose head hasn’t yet stopped spinning from the speed at which he’s been abandoned by former friends and colleagues. The director describes Lucas as ‘the modern Scandinavian man’ – “warm, friendly, helpful and humble” and it is precisely his demeanour that makes the story so poignant. Lucas reacts with disbelief and patience rather than aggressive denial. It’s not until he’s denied to shop for Christmas groceries that he’s had too much.

Suffering from a few unnecessary plot twists (the killing of Lucas’ pet dog or throwing a rock through his window) The Hunt still offers a lot to enjoy – most notably the culmination at the Midnight Mass or the anxiety-inducing finale. If you want to start off the new year with a gripping feature, this is the one to watch.

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  • If you enjoyed this film (although ‘enjoyed’ is perhaps difficult considering the subject matter) I would recommend director Thomas Vinterberg’s earlier film Festen (The Celebration).

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