The Hunt: Reviewed
Opening today at The Showroom is The Hunt (Jagten), a Danish film that’s been selected as the hidden gem of December, the Film of the Month for Showroom members. From Denmark, it’s entirely in Danish but don’t worry, there are subtitles for those of us that have yet to master our first language yet.
Set in a small village the film details the effect of one accusation and how it completely warps the relationships and equilibrium of the community. Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a nursery teacher suspected of sexually abusing a child under his care, and with nothing more than this the locals turn on him, this formerly accepted and loved friend becomes persona non grata in his own home.
The film is going to resonate very well with the recent Jimmy Saville revelations and the ensuing dominoes that continue to fall in the celebrity world, even though it was written and filmed long before all of this kicked off. Given the sensationalism that we have inflicted on us seemingly everyday it’s actually refreshing to see a down to earth quiet version of the scenario.
What makes the film work is Mikkelsen’s acting. You’ll either know him as the bad guy from Casino Royale, or as the knight with the bird from the god-awful King Arthur film that had Kiera Knightly wearing only war paint. The dynamic of Mikkelsen on his own against the entire village of character archetypes creates a great deal of adversarial emotional depth that turns the narrative from a simple morality tale into a compelling drama. Mikkelsen won the Best Actor award at Cannes, which should tell you everything you need to know.
It’s from Thomas Vinterberg, which film buffs will know is one of the co-founders of the Dogme 95 manifesto and metal fans will know as the guy who directed the music video for Metallica’s ‘The Day That Never Comes’. His direction is the kind of simple style that you’d expect, allowing the story to speak without flashy and distracting camera tricks, an unyielding window into the subjects and their actions.
The fact that it has subtitles will alienate some people, but those people will never know what they’re missing. It’s sometimes bleak, but underlying the entire thing is a damned good drama that manages to be both thought provoking and very entertaining even with the very disturbing subject matter. The guys and gals at The Showroom have pulled a blinder by bringing us this film, even before its general release in its country of origin. You miss this at your peril as it easily became a candidate for film of the year after I saw it.