The Hunt (2012): “The whole town is listening.”

the_hunt_posterThe Hunt (2012), directed by Thomas Vinterberg, approaches some familiar themes with a very unique approach and focus. Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) works at a kindergarten, where he has a great rapport with the kids he looks after. He’s also a single dad hoping to gain custody of his only son. When a young girl at the kindergarten, the daughter of his best friend, makes a worrying allegation about him to one of his co-workers, that allegation is investigated in an inflammatory and unjust way. The film follows Lucas as he deals with this allegation, and with the people who live in his small town who treat him with increasing contempt.

The Hunt is a compelling take on the concept of mass hysteria and the modern-day witch hunt, and it confronts these themes and ideas without hyperbole or hysteria itself. Its portrayal of someone wrongfully accused of such a heinous crime might make you feel upset or angry. It certainly made me feel very frustrated – but I would say that’s one of the strengths of the film. It evokes strong emotions, and the fact that the audience is on Lucas’ side from the very beginning is a testament to this film’s amazing storytelling and character development. We know that Lucas is innocent, and the way that the town seems content to jump on the bandwagon and accuse him of sexually assaulting a young girl without a proper investigation will make you hate every one of them.

The acting in this film is superb. Mads Mikkelsen is nothing short of amazing in his portrayal of Lucas, and his subtlety is so commendable. It would be easy, in a film like this, for the rage of his character to be interpreted an an external way; to shout, and deny vehemently any accusation. But the restraint in his performance is kind of genius, and shows a point of difference in the way someone might react to something so horrible. Some people turn inward when confronted with information they want to reject, and this is one of the character traits on display here. When Lucas first learns of the allegation made against him, Mikkelsen seems to use all of the tiny muscles in his face to show both shock and a huge internal struggle. All throughout the film, his performance is top notch. He’s a well-deserved winner of the Best Actor award at Cannes.

Attention must also be paid to the young members of the cast. Annika Wedderkopp plays Klara, the girl who lies about Lucas. She is an extraordinary young talent and paradoxically displays a lot of maturity, even though she’s clearly kindergarten-age. In her initial accusation against Lucas, her small voice shows so much restrained anger and rejection. When she realises that she’s done something wrong, her performance is heartbreaking. Lucas’ son Marcus is also very competently played by Lasse FogelstrΓΈm. Marcus’ passionate defense of his father is almost a relief to watch after Lucas’ continual degradation in the eyes of the town. Marcus almost represents the voice of the audience, and does so in an eminently watchable way.

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The cinematographer, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, is someone I will be paying attention to in future. Each shot in this film was set up impeccably. The change in tone from pre-accusation to post-accusation is balanced by amazing shotmaking and use of colour and light, in addition to the aforementioned spectacular acting skills. It just seems like everything matches everything else in this film, if that even makes sense. The cinematography also shows off a lot of the beautiful nature of the small town in which Lucas lives, seemingly in order to contrast it with the monstrosity of the humans who live there. In alignment with the performances, the use of music is also very subtle and further sets the tone of the film in a perfect way.

What I really appreciated about this film was the fact that it quite unflinchingly focuses on an issue that we don’t often see in the cinema. I can think of a number of films about mislaid accusations and injustice, but I can’t think of another similarly-themed film whose story is constructed in as sensitive and as unique a way as The Hunt. I don’t know if there are too many opportunities to display the kind of bravery shown in this film; particularly with reference to films that focus on accusations of sexual assault of children. With such a confronting subject matter, watching this one feels like a very unique experience. It’s a story that seems familiar, but is portrayed in a completely new way.

The Hunt is one of those films that makes you yell at the screen. Even to its final moments, this amazing film will have you captivated, and your mind will stay with the film long after the credits have finished rolling. With its stellar performances, unique approach to its story, and beautiful cinematography and music, this is a film you cannot miss if you’re a fan of excellent dramatic cinema. I’m tipping this one to win Best Foreign Film at the Oscars this year.

4.5/5
Watch the trailer here.

Watch the film at Amazon!

40 comments

  1. Love this film! Mads is amazing, really hope it wins the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

    1. Mads Mikkelsen is so great. Fingers crossed!

  2. This has had so many good reviews, I know I should watch it… Great review. : )

    1. You really should. It’s genius. πŸ™‚

    2. Thanks! πŸ™‚ You have to see it!

  3. Great review of a spectacular film.

    Especially agreed on how Vinterburg uses every filmmaking element to produce a whole that communicates a single tone. I was especially reserved the cinematography was when in nature. The forest is beautiful, but never too beautiful. Such a brilliantly constructed movie.

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚ That’s such an excellent summary of why the film is so great – everything just cooperates perfectly.

  4. Loved this movie as well, but since Italy was nominated as well I’ll have to go with The Great Beauty (which is a great movie too)! Glad you loved The Hunt. It was definitely an intense experience and I’m such a Mads Mikkelsen fan πŸ™‚

    1. I have plans to see The Great Beauty soon and I’m really looking forward to it! My favourite thing about that film is saying its name in Italian and feeling super cultured.

      1. Nice! I do that all the time just to annoy people who mostly know the original title (if at all) πŸ™‚

  5. I really want to see this movie! Been waiting for ages but not got round to it. You have reignited my interest Anna, cheers!

    1. Cheers Tom! It’s such an amazing film!

  6. Everyone sure seems to like this – I’m going to give it a watch when it’s out where I live – nice work!

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ It’s so worth seeing. Probably my favourite film I’ve seen in 2014 so far!

      1. I’ll be sure to give it a shot : )

  7. Very good review, Anna. One of the best films of last year & definitely among my top 5 of 2013.

    It’s a very important motion picture for what it depicts & the questions it puts up. Loved it.
    Here is my review of it: https://cinemaclown.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/jagten/

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ I like your review a lot!

      1. Thanks πŸ˜€ …Mads Mikkelsen is slowly becoming one of my favourite actors working currently. Loved The Hunt, Love Hannibal (TV series) & almost every work I’ve seen of his, so far.

  8. Nice review Anna. Glad this one got nominated and hopefully, it wins. Definitely one of, if not, the best foreign-language film of the year, with an amazing performance from Mikkelsen.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ I really have my fingers crossed that this one wins the Oscar. Everything about it was so impressive. But I’m still surprised that Blue Is The Warmest Colour didn’t get a nomination!

  9. Glad you liked his one! Such a great, thought provoking and infuriating movie. I kept hoping this would end like Dogville, especially after that horrible dog scene.

    1. Oh my god, me too. The townspeople were so infuriating and the dog scene was heartbreaking! Most of all, I was just so frustrated that the accusations weren’t investigated properly. I shook my fist at the screen a lot. That’s the sign of a great film! Or an amazingly horrible film.

  10. “Marcus almost represents the voice of the audience, and does so in an eminently watchable way.”

    Perfectly said! I watched this a few weeks ago and it seriously depressed the crap out of me. It was great, Mads was unbelieavably great, but it really brought me down for the rest of the day. I love your review, though, much less gloomy than the film itself. πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks Elina! πŸ™‚ Yeah, I required some quiet thinking time after this one to get the gloom out of my system! I like films that inspire reflection. And anything with Mads Mikkelsen.

  11. Great review of a very moving, clever, understated and thought-provoking film.

    1. Thanks Laura πŸ™‚

  12. Oh my goodness, so many movies I have to see!!! This one hasn’t been prominently advertised in the U.S. – unsurprising, unfortunately, since we tend to think that anything produced in Europe is “artsy.” Nonetheless, it sounds just really amazing. Your review did make me think of the movie version of “Doubt” with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman as it deals with sexual abuse of children. But that movie was only tepid, I’m afraid.

    And I recognize Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre from Casino Royale!

    1. Ooohhh, artsy! πŸ˜‰ It really is so great. I haven’t seen Doubt, but I’ve always meant to because Meryl Streep is flawless. Shame that it’s tepid, but this one is definitely amazing. Mads Mikkelsen was great in Casino Royale, but I’m happy to confirm that he’s also amazing at carrying a film by himself!

  13. Excellent review of a phenomenal film. I agree wholheartedly with your review. This movie was so impressive and impeccably acted, demanding your attention and really just working on your emotions to the max.

    1. Thanks Zoe! πŸ™‚ Reading your comment makes me want to watch it again!

      1. Your review almost had me back to seeing it too! πŸ˜›

  14. Great review. I agree completely, it’s an absolutely astounding fim

    1. Thanks Mikey! πŸ™‚ I love that this film is getting a lot of love. So well deserved.

  15. Great work Anna, this movie sounds so intense and just. . . .wrong. Not sure if I’ll get over the fact that witch hunt-type movies annoy me so that I will go to lengths to avoid them (in this case, the quality sounds undeniable, yet I still might miss it) haha. Maybe I’ll check it out eventually, though, if anything for Mads Mikkelson. Love him.

    1. Thanks Tom! πŸ™‚ It is a really intense film. I swear that this type of witch hunt has much more realism and authenticity as opposed to other dramatic rabies-style witch hunts! I love Mads Mikkelsen too. He is so impressive in this film.

  16. That good? I seen it while searching through Netflix, and read a few reviews of it, but decided to watch something else instead. Maybe I should get around to this one, as it does sound quite interesting. That seems like such a rough situation to be in…..

    Well written review by the way.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ It’s definitely worth getting around to! Just make sure you have the opportunity for some quiet thinking time afterwards as it’s pretty depressing.

  17. Fantastic review. This is an amazing film. One of the best from last year. It held a prominent spot on my Top 10 of 2013 list and it appears prominently on a list I posted today.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ It really is amazing. I’m crossing my fingers for the Oscar, it absolutely deserves it.

  18. […] Beauty for its exploration of beauty and its themes which unfold in such a mesmerising way. I loved The Hunt for its gripping storyline and incredibly impressive performance by Mads Mikkelsen. As with the […]

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