The Hunt (Jagten) 1 hr 46 minutes – Drama“The Hunt” Director: Thomas Vinterberg Cast: Mads Mikkelsen (Lucas), Annika Wedderkopp (Klara), Susse Wold, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lars Ranthe, Anne Louise Hassing
This is everything I enjoy about foreign films. It is not a molded, tidy Hollywood story cast with popular faces and plots that can be analyzed within three minutes. The acting is suburb. Set in a small village in modern-day Denmark, this gripping tale was begging to be told. Unlike the movie “Doubt”, where a priest is suspected of inappropriate conduct with a student (but the viewer never learns the truth), in this gripping tale we all know the little girl is lying. Mads Mikkelsen, (whose performance in “The Royal Affair” was rated five-star by moi), has chosen another riveting character to portray. Lucas, just out of a bad marriage and worse divorce begins to rebuild his life as a popular kindergarten school teacher. A little girl, Klara, embarrassed by her feelings for her teacher, makes up a story that is prodded into something bigger than life by her school principal. As Klara’s lie becomes accepted as truth, it is handled by the school authorities, finally progressing to the police department. With a bungling, misleading interrogation the story grows bigger and bigger. Lucas is put “on leave” and eventually fired. The principal, assuming that the accusation is not only the truth but might effect other children, as well discusses the situation with school parents. A sort of hysteria develops throughout the town. The witch hunt has begun.
It reminds me of the book by M. Scott Peck, M.D. called “People of the Lie – The Hope for Healing Human Evil”. As explained in this book, one can hammer and hammer away at non-existing issues till a lie becomes a “truth”. To keep that “truth” alive one has to convince everyone of it. The lie, then, becomes the truth by which people live (Hitler is an extreme example of this). The assumption that one is guilty and that a child never lies is an easy one to make in an over-zealous community of protective parents, guardians and officials. It is a disturbing depiction for sure of how a lie becomes a truth.
As the story unravels everyone turns away from Lucas. Violence steps forward. His likable dog is killed, his son is beaten, then Lucas is brutalized by the same towns people he has called friends. Worst of all, his lifetime, best friend, Theo, whose daughter, Klara, is the accuser, abandons him. It is an unsettling story of life shattered by a lie. The ending begs conversation; how would you have behaved in that town?
Mads Mikkelsen received the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2012. No doubt he will be up for more awards in this and future films. He stars in the NBC television series “Hannibal”. ★★★ Plus