Friday, July 26, 2013

 

The Hunt (Jagten)

The Hunt official site Socially and emotionally, one's natural desire is to be accepted (or even better, well regarded) by the community he lives in. That acceptance brings joy and happiness. However, if one is shunned (or even worse, condemned) by his community, that rejection creates a living hell. If the community's resentment is based on wrongful accusation, the pain can definitely be unbearable and devastating. Danish director Thomas Vinterberg tells a heartbreaking tale of such instance in his absorbing drama "The Hunt" (Jagten | Denmark 2012 | in Danish | 115 min.).

The film is set in a small village in Denmark where everybody knows each other well. Temporary kindergarten teacher Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a well-liked guy by both fellow adults and children surrounding him. One shy and innocent girl Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of Lucus's best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), is particularly fond of him. Although his teenage son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm) lives with his divorced wife at the moment, Lucas is looking forward to Marcus to move in and to live with him soon.

But one day, under the suggestive questioning by school principle Grethe (Susse Wold), Klara vaguely implies that Lucus exposed himself. Lucas's world turned upside down. Things get out of hand quickly like wide fire. Lucas's amiable image is turned into a poster for monstrous pedophile because many parents begin to suspect their children are also abused. He is suspended from his job. He breaks up with his girlfriend Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport). He is shunned by his friends, including Theo. His son Marcus's moving plan is also in jeopardy. He can't even shop at the only grocery store around. He is reluctantly dragged into a battle to get his reputation and dignity back.

The Hunt Official Site

Throughout the film, the story unfolds in Lucas's point of view while the camera constantly lingers on Mads Mikkelsen's poignant and sympathetic expression. The film offers no doubt to the audience that Lucas is innocent. Therefore, I am not giving away the plot by saying that Lucas is wrongly accused up front, and it's necessary. Because by telling Lucas's unfortunate story, the film true focus is to capture the Lucas's emotional reaction to his world shattering event, as well as the paranoia mental instinct exhibited by most people in the village. It brilliantly depicts the devastating feeling when somebody is insanely accused with a terrible crime while he knows that none of the accusations is true.

Mads Mikkelsen is perhaps one of the most recognizable European actors today. Casting him to the role of Lucas seems a perfect fit. He has a serious face with sad eyes. I can't recall him smiling or laughing in numerous films he is in. He could have just looked into the camera, we probably would already feel sympathy for him. Yet, he is remarkable to express Lucas's rage toward the injustice, as well as to show Lucas's tender warmness toward the confused and innocent Klara. His mesmerizing performance took the Best Actor Award at 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

It's sad to see that people so easily to give up on faith and trust in somebody. That's the true tragedy in our culture and society today, the film puts that on display vividly.

"The Hunt," a Magnolia Pictures release, opens on Friday, July 26, 2013 in San Francisco Bay Area.


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