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Film Review: The Hunt

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Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Written by Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm
Director of photography Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Editing by Anne Osterud and Janus Billeskov Jansen
Music Supervision by Nikolaj Egelund
Production design by Torben Stig Nielsen
Costumes by Manon Rasmussen
Produced by Morten Kaufmann and Sisse Graum Jorgensen
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
In Danish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes.
Principle Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrom, Susse Wold , Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe and Alexandra Rapaport.

Tweetable Review: A nonstop guessing game with extremely fine acting from Mads Mikkelsen; A viscerally intense experience!

Every day stories hit the news telling of circumstances gone wrong, where innocent people fall on bad luck – there’s no explanation and there’s no way to avoid it. In the new drama The Hunt,  Lucas (Mads Mikklesen), a genuine and warm-hearted kindergarten teacher in the midst of putting his life back together, post-divorce and layoff, is side-swiped by life when hit with an accusation of pedophilia from one of his students. Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of Lucas’ best friend who falsely and vaguely leads her teacher Grethe (Susse Wold) into believing that Lucas has made sexual advances.  Klara eventually revokes her statement and tries to convince her parents that no activity took place but the damage has been done. What takes place through the following 115 min feature examines the trust of innocence in both children and adults, preconceived notions in others and the unforgiving nature of fear and danger in life.

Photo 2Together writer Tobias Lindholm and director Thomas Vinterberg have created a strong and engrossing outing that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats. An easy parallel for a very basic animal community in The Hunt a small Danish town is built upon the traditions of deer hunters and only the strong surviving. It is within this realm that the weakened & mild-mannered Lucas is dominated by Klara and her accusations that wound our hero for let the blood-letting ti commence for the rest of the town’s wolf pack of men in charge. Its within this that a poison of evil and hatred spreads through such a tight knit grouping that eventually most of residents simply follow the community leaders blindly. The Hunt presents a safety in numbers story that portrays a nightmarish battle for those who go against the grain, but ultimately receive their personal rewards if they are steadfast in themselves and their beliefs.

It’s a difficult thing to sit back and watch an innocent man battle his external enemies, and even more so, his internal ones. There is a desperation in Lucas thats ripe for a growing horror and a explosively-climatic war just under the quiet and plain facade of Mads Mikkelsen. Through a rich inner turmoil and quietly surmounting self-guilt, Mikkelsen’s skilled and bottled performance as an innocent man struggling to accept his plight is astonishingly defiant, and proves he was more than deserving of his Best Actor award from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Alongside the principle actor here is a surprisingly turn from newcomer Annika Wedderkopp as Lucas’ accuser – the actress brings an attention to each scene she’s in from beginning to end; seldom do audiences get matured work from a young talent like this and it pays off.

Overall The Hunt will give audiences a chilling tale of what happens to the wrongly accused, but does so with some potential missed production items. There are a few metaphors in the hunting aspect of the film that are a bit on-the-mark, and much of the third act hints too much upon religious overtones, but audiences can look past the heavy-hand of Vinterberg’s tone with Mikkelsen being in such fine form. With that said, it really is a shame that for a film built upon such reliance of nature and primitive animal behavior, the camerawork here is surprisingly placid and neutral. While we aren’t expecting that a drama about pedophilia is going to have swooping movements and expressive style – it certainly doesn’t mean that viewers should only get what a films’ actors are giving and no more – it not only unfair to ask those onscreen to give that much but doesn’t make for compelling storytelling either. Finally, The Hunt suffers from a disjointed and jarring finale that will leave a shocking stain on the audience but may not be the best for walking away from, but the film works where it needs to which makes for an intense viewing esp. made for VOD.

~ Matt Miles, 24/7 Contributor
Producer of Fresh Roasted Films

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