Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Movie with Abe: The Hunt

The Hunt
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Released July 12, 2013 / DVD December 10, 2013

Mads Mikkelsen is a talented actor who has managed a rare international crossover. Famous for his roles in Danish films such as “After the Wedding,” Mikkelsen became known to American audiences as the villain in “Casino Royale” and even currently stars on an American television show, “Hannibal.” Mikkelsen continues to do great work in his home country, and it’s no surprise that he is at the center of this year’s powerful Best Foreign Film Oscar submission from Denmark, “The Hunt.”

“The Hunt” can be described well by first introducing its layered title. In its opening moments, Lucas (Mikkelsen) can be seen enjoying time away with his friends, a group of hunters. Lucas is excited that his son will soon be able to get his hunting license, though he does not see him as often as he would like because of his recent separation from his ex-wife. Lucas also lives a happy but simple life as a school teacher, beloved by his kindergarteners. All that changes, however, when Lucas is accused of sexually abusing one of his students.

“The Hunt” tackles a very difficult and disturbing subject matter. One of Lucas’ colleagues hears her student say unexpected and inappropriate things about Lucas, and questions the legitimacy of her claims given her youthful active imagination. Yet doubting the veracity of such claims can lead to bad places, and, as a result, the girl is taken at her word. The evolution of the situation after that is staggering to watch, and, in no time, Lucas has been ostracized from and demonized by the community that days earlier considered him to be one of their most well-rounded members.

This film has a strong and compelling story, and it’s just as worthwhile as a cautionary tale about letting rumors evolve and not allowing the accused the opportunity to defend themselves. Mikkelsen is a perfect choice to play Lucas, sweet and sympathetic but not warm or aggressive enough to protest the situation in which he has been placed. Among the supporting cast, Thomas Bo Larsen stands out as Lucas’ best friend and the father of Klara, the girl who has accused him of abuse. Annika Wedderkopp is terrific as Klara, demonstrating a youthful innocence and curiosity that triggers many of the film’s events. “The Hunt” is a disconcerting yet affirming tale of the dangers of presuming guilt and the complexity of doubt.


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