Audiences tend to think of Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre from Casino Royale as James Bond or Hannibal on television. People don’t realize that he is very successful foreign film actor that garners awards and nominations with his performances in movies. The Hunt directed by Thomas Vinterberg is driven by Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as a Lucas, teacher, falsely accused.
Lucas is a kindergarten teacher down on his luck. His former wife has custody of his son, and his son relationship with his son is rocky. The only joys in his life are his dog, Fanny, and working with the children in his kindergarten class. A socially awkward child named Klara gets attached to Lucas. She is Lucas’s best friend’s, Theo, daughter, and develops feelings for him. Klara makes Lucas a paper heart and gives him a kiss expressing the affection only a five year old knows how to. Lucas tells Klara that is inappropriate by suggesting she give the heart to a boy in her class. She feels rejected and tells a little white lie to the director of the educational institution. Lucas’s life starts to spiral out of control. Will Lucas get his life back or will he be remain labeled as child molester for the rest of his life?
The Hunt‘s giant negative are the resolutions of told by narration and never seen on screen. Lucas is proven innocent apparently by the children telling the police that he has molested them in basement in house. He has no basement thus proving his innocence. The director, Thomas Vinterberg, should have written a scene or a few scenes involving the hearing that proves Lucas’s innocence. The Danish Judicial system is different than the American Court system or any other court systems in the world and that would have been a great visual comparison to see it play it out on screen. Despite this giant negative, The Hunt is a fantastic movie with several dramatic themes.
The major focus of the film is being falsely accused then being automatically guilty by community of people and the accused’s friends too. People tend to rush towards judgements about others when hearing rumors. Rumors are like wildfire and can spread quickly destroying everything and people’s reputation. The audience knows that Lucas is innocent and Klara is lying. The parents and community are being reactionary also but then a bigger question arises, who do you believe a single male teacher or your children?
The Hunt makes another point that children can lie or misconstrue things that lead to trouble. Klara’s brother and his friends show her a pornographic picture in the movie. Instead of running off to tell her parents like any logical child should do, she bottles the experience up and uses the emotion get revenge on her teacher. Teachers know that children can lie about things to keep getting into trouble. The best line in the movie is from the Director of the school where she tells Lucas, “I always believe children. They don’t lie.” Lucas really doesn’t get a chance to defend himself either. The parents and the school administration obviously thinks he is a lair too. Lying is another big factor of the film. The main positive is Mads Mikkelsen’s performance.
The Hunt is about Lucas without a powerful performance by Mikkelsen’s the film would fail. Mikkelsen is sympathetic and likeable as Lucas. He captivates the audience’s attention throughout the film and one scene in particular stands out. Lucas goes grocery shopping and stops at the meat section. He asks the butcher for pork chops. The butcher responds “we don’t have any.” Lucas points that there are two chops right now. This leads to a confrontation where Lucas gets beaten by employees at the grocery. He gets thrown out the door and gets cold frozen meat thrown at him. Lucas comes back into the store and gets retaliation on the employees then walks out like a boss.
The Hunt is a really good movie. Mikkelsen’s solid performance garner him awards and won Best Actor at the Cannes film festival. The film has several thematic elements to it. The only drawback is the film’s resolution of conflicts.