Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen churns out one of his best performances in this tale of what happens when a lie threatens a road of redemption for one man.
Lucas is a respectable man who has been through tough times. Divorced, he gets frustrated that he can only see his teenage son Marcus every other weekend. His only solace is his job, an assistant at a local kindergarten. He is friends with all the townsfolk, especially his best friend Theo and his family. He helps Theo’s young daughter Klara out when she gets lost. However, when Klara gives Lucas a small gift she had made, he politely tells her to give it to one of the other kids.
That incident sets off a chain of events that will change Lucas’ life. When Klara tells Grethe, the school’s director that Lucas had inappropriately touched her, Lucas practically loses everything in an instant. He loses his job, his friends, and his well-being. However, he never committed the crime, yet he has been shunned as has Marcus, who has come to visit him to support him. While Lucas still has another friend in Bruun, Marcus’s godfather, Lucas’ life slowly begins to unravel. Will he be able to prove his innocence in a world where people believe in gossip and not enough in truth?
Written by director Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, the film depicts what can happen when a small lie not only is blown out of proportion, but affects a whole town who believe more in gossip and not hear both sides of the story. Sadly, this is something that happens in real life today. When people believe more in gossip and shun people rather than hear their side of the story as well, it can either make them look like fools after the truth is revealed or it can destroy lives. In this film, the latter is exposed as we see our protagonist Lucas’ life change instantly once the lie comes out.
The film is certainly driven by the performance of Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the embittered Lucas. He plays a man who is trying to get his life together and in the midst of things, even starts a relationship with co-worker Nadja, played by Swedish actress Alexandra Rapaport. However, when the lie comes out, no one dares listen to his side, with the exception of Theo, who eventually becomes distant like the rest; Marcus, who sneaks off to see his father suffer and tries to help him; and Bruun, Marcus’ godfather and at one point, Lucas’ only native ally. During his “exile”, he gets beaten at a grocery store because of the lie and it is there, he finally decides to fight back while he spent the rest of the film keeping quiet and trying to maintain his innocence.
The film’s title has quite a double meaning. Lucas is a hunter and in a sense, he’s gone from being the hunter to the hunted. The other meaning involves the type of hunt Lucas finds himself involved in: a witch hunt. Despite a few people willing to help, he finds himself unable to deal with the consequences of a lie and will do what it takes to make sure he clears his name, despite the far cries of the public.
The film has won numerous awards, including a total of twelve wins at the Robert Awards (the Danish version of the Academy Awards) and rightfully so. THE HUNT is one of those films that will remind one of real life and Mads Mikkelsen is wonderful in the role of the man whose life changes when a lie destroys him mentally, emotionally, and in some cases, physically. A definite must-see of a film.
WFG RATING: A+
Zentropa Entertainment presents a Nordisk Film & TV Fond/Svensk Filminstitutet production in association with Film I Väst, The Danish Filminstitute, Dr Eurimages, SVT, The Media Programme of the European Union. Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Producers: Sisse Graum Jørgensen and Morten Kaufmann. Writers: Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm. Cinematography: Charlotte Bruss Christensen. Editing: Anne Østerud and Janus Billeskov Jansen.
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Alexandra Rapaport, Lars Ranthe.