Title: “The Hunt (Jagten)”
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Lucas is a kindergarten teacher in a small Danish town. While well loved by the children and his friends, this changes when he is accused of molesting one of the children. Swiftly, the town turns on him, leaving him an outcast as the accusations grow.
“The Hunt” is one of those movies that is troubling and powerful. The audience is given an omniscient point of view in this film. We know that Lucas is innocent and we see how the accusation got started in a little lie, but we’re powerless to do anything other than sit and watch as events play out. We watch as he is let go from his job, his friends ostracize him, and he is assaulted in public, even though we know he’s innocent.
Acted amazingly well by Mads Mikkelsen, I can see this film being controversial in some circles. Some may see this as being an apologetic film for child molesters and saying that it says that we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and that would completely miss the point and be evident that they didn’t actually watch the movie. Instead, the message here is a warning against witch hunts, and not to rush to immediately believe the worst but to allow investigations to play out. It’s an examination of our own darker side and our desire to believe the worst in human nature as an ever-present threat, so much so that our passions can blind us to the facts.
If I have to fault this film, it would be for its ending. While the actual ending is left ambiguous and rightfully so, the film lost me in the minutes leading up to this ending. It seemed completely unbelievable with us arriving at a resolution without seeing how we reached that resolution. It felt like the filmmakers knew where they wanted to go with it, but had written themselves into a corner and didn’t know how to get from where they were to their intended destination. A pretty big stumble for an otherwise powerful movie.
A strong and amazingly powerful film, “The Hunt” deserves your attention even if it peters out near the end. It’s available on Netflix as of the time of this writing.
“The Hunt” earns 4.5 out of 5 stars.