Drags a bit too long for its own good, but Vinterberg’s latest remains to be a fairly compelling drama with fine performances.
Dir. Thomas Vinterberg
2012 | Denmark | Drama | 116 mins | 2.35:1 | Danish, English & Polish
R21 (passed clean) for sexual content including a graphic image, violence and language
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp
Plot: A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son’s custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Awards: Won Best Actor, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury & Vulcain Prize for the Technical Artist (Cannes); Nom. for Best Foreign Language Feature (Oscar)
International Sales: TrustNordisk
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 9 Jun 2013
Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor at Cannes for The Hunt, and with films such as A Royal Affair (2012) under his belt, and playing the notorious Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the hit 2013 television series “Hannibal”, the suave Danish actor is becoming one of the sought-after European stars of the last few years.
I notice a remarkable intensity in his eyes. He can stare right into and through you, and he does so towards a couple of characters in The Hunt who have tried to humiliate him.
Despite his seemingly tough and charismatic screen presence, Mikkelsen plays a vulnerable Lucas, a lonely pre-school teacher whose life dramatically turns turtle when an innocent lie spreads like wildfire, threatening to destroy and bury him in a tirade of hate from the local community.
Thomas Vinterberg, whose claim to fame came from being a founding father (together with Lars von Trier) of the Dogme 95 movement more than a decade ago with The Celebration (1998), delivers one of his best films to date, though it must be said that his filmography has had more misses than hits, at least when compared to that of von Trier, who simply just… polarizes critics and audiences.
“Look into my eyes. Look me in the eyes. What do you see? Do you see anything?”
The Hunt is beautifully photographed, an antithesis of the Dogme movement really, with composed shots of the beautiful sunset and sunrise that give the Danish wilderness a warm glow. Unlike European art films of this nature, the picturesque scenery in The Hunt does not hide anything sinister, just something… or rather, someone wronged.
The personal and psychological consequences are devastating. Vinterberg’s film is very much a look at the reactionary attitudes of adults, some of which can be childish. A kid would smirk at the situation, but then again, they wouldn’t be able to understand the gravity of the situation, or do they?
Paranoia culture is another theme, which inevitably leads to hate, transforming someone who is so integral to the community into a despicable, foreign Other.
The Hunt, however, suffers from running longer than it should. Vinterberg tries to let his characters reconcile, but the attempt does not feel convincing. I thought the film should have ended on an emotional high in a well-executed sequence in a church. There you will see Mikkelsen’s eyes put to great effect. Stare on.