Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: "The Hunt"

As a teacher, I was deeply affected by The Hunt. I teach my students about biases and I certainly brought my baggage to the theatre. I had very little knowledge about the film prior to seeing it. I knew it was a Danish-language film starring Mads Mikkelsen, who won the 2012 Cannes Best Actor award for his performance. I love foreign films and Mikkelsen is a treasure. I had no idea it was about a teacher wrongly accused of sexually abusing a student. I was appalled and outraged by what I saw on screen. It brought out a lot of fears and anxieties. Mikkelsen is probably most well known in North America for his role in Casino Royale (2006) and Bond's nemesis Le Chiffre, but he is becoming a reliable face in foreign cinema. He played a starring role in the Oscar-nominated Danish film A Royal Affair (2012) which was widely promoted in Toronto. The Hunt is written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg, a Danish director who co-founded the Dogme 95 movement with Lars von Trier. I have not seen any of his previous films, including his two English-language films It's All About Love (2003) and Dear Wendy (2005). The Hunt could have been a melodramatic mess, but Mads Mikkelsen offers such a phenomenal performance that it turned into a foreign gem. It has its moments of emotional heft, but Mikkelsen expertly navigates his character's emotional trajectory. The Hunt is a thrilling drama about a man's inward and outward fight to prove his innocence with a superior and otherworldly performance from Mads Mikkelsen.

Lucas (Mikkelsen) is divorced and working at a kindergarten after losing his job at a secondary school due to financial problems. He desperately wants to maintain a relationship with his teenage son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), who lives with his mother. Lucas lives in a small Danish town and is a quiet, well-liked member of the community. As he begins a relationship with his colleague Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport), his best friend's daughter Klara accuses him of sexual abuse. It is clear that Klara's accusation is unfounded and an attempt at manipulation. Unfortunately, Lucas' superior Agnes (Susse Wold) handles the situation in the worst way possible. Lucas' life is turned upside down and everything he thought was true is suddenly in jeopardy.

I am not sure if the events of The Hunt are legally accurate. But if they are, I am shocked that a man can be so destroyed after being wrongly accused. I understand the need to protect our children, but The Hunt stresses the need for our teachers to be just as protected. Mads Mikkelsen never allows Lucas to play the victim. He understands that he has been wrongly accused and he tries to continue with his life. Mikkelsen's performance is nothing short of perfect. His range of emotions is so in tune with the story. The Hunt works because it avoids the cliches of criminals and victims. It tells the story of its effects. Everything, not just Lucas' life, crumbles as a result of Klara's accusation. It is a powerful story that resonated with me. Now I just want to see Mads Mikkelsen tackle an English-language role with such depth that will bring him to more audiences in North America. The Hunt may not be the dramatic thriller I first expected, but it put me through the wringer!

My rating: 3.75 stars out of 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment