Thomas Vinterberg turns Mads Mikkelsen from Hannibal Lecter to one of the most and vulnerable men ever. Mikkelsen is an asset and we know well how his face becomes one of the most terrifying psycho expressions. Mikkelsen is a typical psycho character, cold, yet sadistic. However, in this Danish movie called “The Hunt”, Mikkelsen can also act like a nice guy where you pity him. He played as Lucas, a friendly teacher in kindergarten. He lives alone in his house after a long divorce from his wife and knows that his only son can still visit him. Almost everyone knows him well. However, one small innocent lie suddenly destroyed his life slowly.
Annika Wedderkopp as Klara told a small lie that Lucas had been indecent with her. Regarding this, there arose a slander that Lucas had committed a kind of sexual harassment to Klara. One town, included his friend, alienate him by assuming that Lucas was a pedophile. Without Klara realizing the consequences, the slander destroyed Lucas’s peace life into chaos. His friends sentenced him savage and judged him arbitrarily.
“The Hunt” is an exploration of the dangers of prejudice without any hard proof. For a better sentence, it might be better to describe it as “slander is crueler than killing”. This movie shows how the real sexual law doesn’t lie in how the police response to it or certain elements. This movie is a representation of how people easily judge other people. It’s like looking for prey, just like the title, trying to find an outlet without making any concrete conclusions. It’s like how we feel bad but when you see someone doing something worse, we easily conclude that that person is worse than us.
“The Hunt” received an Oscar nomination in 2014 for the Best Foreign Film category. However, the conflict in this movie is very narrow even with the 115-minute runtime, it finishes so quickly. Vinterberg presents this film as a slow-burn type of film. Exploration of the conflict from how lies emerged in the first place to how the false slander caused an emotional impact for the protagonist, everything was neat. The plot is centered on the protagonist’s situation which never runs away from the place. With a little subtext too, the movement of the story between the plot and subplot is so effective that this movie feels realistic, personal, and raw. The realistic elements form scenes after scenes were heartbreaking. Lucas couldn’t do anything but at least there was still his family who wanted to help him. We just know the protagonist isn’t doing anything wrong.
The power of Thomas Vinterberg directing “The Hunt” lies not only in how realistic the film was. But, it’s the performance on the screen. Mads Mikkelsen, regardless of people who prefer his role as a psycho, acts as an innocent man. The look into his eyes full of sadness, fortitude, and his emotion drags us to a chaotic feeling. There are lots of scenes that let you know his expression. You know that in his eyes, there was nothing. The church scene is one of the most memorable moments in this film. Everyone, besides Mikkelsen, in this film is amazing. Wedderkopp, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lasse Fogelstrøm, they stole a lot of attention in the specific scene.
Although I’m impressed with the ending of the movie didn’t end as a horror movie, it’s just superstition that the ending would end like that. It would be unrealistic. But, I like the ending where you don’t have to guess clearly who was the last person in the final sequence. And that what makes this movie is great. The ending, besides it just like that, ends with full ambiguity about the true meaning of prejudice. In contrast, you can compare it to this internet era where a cancel culture is a thing. But, Thomas Vinterberg invites you to feel its ambiguity, about who you should hate in this film. Above all, the answer is none. Such simple films can be explored as deeply as possible and “The Hunt” is one of the prominent examples.
4.5 out of 5 stars.