The Hunt is a Danish film directed by Thomas Vinterberg, with a screenplay co-written by Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm. The film tells the story of Lucas, a former teacher who is trying to get his life back on track after a divorce. Lucas’s life is flipped upside down, though, when he is wrongfully accused of sexually molesting a child at the local kindergarten. When this nasty rumor is started, it sends the entire village into mass hysteria, and Lucas rapidly becomes the subject of everyone’s disparagement.
After hearing about this movie from a weekly film podcast I listen to, I became fascinated with the subject matter of the film, and thus, I had to see it. Upon the first viewing, I was blown away. From the moment the horrifying rumor is first started by a young schoolgirl, the film promptly shifts from festive and exultant to tense and shocking. Vinterberg’s cinematic style is truly captivating, and he expounds upon this contentious subject matter through subtle nuances and forthright passion. For the viewer, the story seems so utterly definite and concrete, but Vinterberg deliberately delineates this complex narrative with a remarkable sense of ambiguity—you will definitely be watching some scenes through your hands as the plot grows thicker and thicker with intensity.
Despite the impeccable script and alluring filmmaking, the film would not be the success that it is without extraordinary acting, and in The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen leads the way with a transfixing portrayal of the scorned Lucas. Even though Mikkelsen is an established Danish actor, he is well known in the States as well, thanks to his role as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006) and his portrayal of the titular character in NBC’s Hannibal TV series. The performance Mikkelsen gives in The Hunt is truly spectacular, and I believe his gripping depiction of a man ostracized by his tight-knit community over a false rumor was clearly one of the year’s best. Lucas’s life and his dignity are on the line with every move he makes, and Mikkelsen depicts this solitude in such a competent manner. At times, Lucas is calm and relaxed because he knows that he has done nothing wrong, but at other moments, he lets his anger get the best of him as members of the community protest his existence. Two scenes that most elucidate the tense social extradition of Lucas are his confrontation with a series of grocery store employees and his outburst at the Christmas Eve church service—as the latter scene commenced, my eyes opened wide with anticipation and fear.
If you have not seen this film yet, I cannot recommend it to you enough. It will be one of the tensest movie-watching experiences you will ever have, that much I can guarantee. I know a number of people do not enjoy watching films with subtitles, but honestly, this film is so incredibly well executed that you will forget all about the movie being in Danish by the time the plot starts to coagulate. To put it simply, this is a film that you flat-out do not want to miss. The Hunt is rated R for sexual content including a graphic image, violence, and language.
The Hunt trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK9cO7QN8Ak
Academy Award nominations for The Hunt:
Best Foreign Language Film (Denmark – The Hunt)
Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year:
4. Frances Ha
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
6. The World’s End
7. American Hustle
8. The Spectacular Now
10. Captain Phillips
13. Fruitvale Station
14. The Place Beyond the Pines
15. Dallas Buyers Club