This summer we’ve been lucky to get a good handful of moving dramas sprinkled in between all the bombastic action blockbusters. The Hunt is definitely one of them. Mads Mikkelsen, best known at the moment for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s Hannibal, is one of Hollywood’s most underappreciated talents. If his work as the infamous cannibal didn’t convince you, The Hunt surely will.
Mikkelsen plays a lonely teacher, Lucas, who is recently divorced and trying to get custody of his teenage son. Lucas has a great group of friends and enjoys working at the small town’s kindergarten. Things seem to finally be looking up for Lucas, until one of his young students innocently tells a terrible lie that completely changes his life.
We aren’t strangers to hearing about child sex abuse unfortunately. And when we do hear it, we’re still horrified and completely ready to condemn the perpetrator. So it’s no surprise to see Lucas’ friends and the entire small town turn against him when the little girl’s lie goes public and is undoubtedly understood as the truth. However, what director Thomas Vinterberg and Mikkelsen make apparent from the very beginning is Lucas’ innocence. We have no doubt that what the little girl said is a complete lie, which makes the rest of the film a tormenting yet riveting watch.
Mikkelsen is at his best, playing a man that refuses to give into pressure and continues to plead his innocence. It’s heartbreaking and still there are moments that are filled with fervent hope that it all gets resolved in the end. What’s interesting is how much this movie not only steps into the conscious of the condemned innocent person but the psychology behind a small town community. The film takes place in Denmark, but this small Danish town could be anywhere. In that, the movie ends up taking you to an unanticipated and sort of shocking ending. The thought-provoking final scene drives home the truth and consequence of the entire situation. It stayed with me for a long time, at first trying to understand it and when comprehension finally settled in, it shook me up a little bit.
With excellent acting, an emotionally engaging story and great direction, The Hunt has it all. It’s moving, yet unsettling throughout, especially with an open ending that refuses to give the audience the closure that we foolishly think we’ll get. The Hunt is effective gripping cinema that you won’t forget anytime soon.
The Hunt is now playing in select theaters. Click here to see when and where it’s playing near you.