Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Written by Tobias Holm and Thomas Vinterberg
Okay for a start I watched this with I think fan made subtitles, so I think the delicacy of the dialogue was lost on me. But I was kind of okay with that because I knew a bit about the subject matter so it was a nice wee distancing tool.
The Hunt is about every parent’s and every teacher’s nightmare. Lukas, a kindly single man who teaches at the nursery school in a small town is accused by a little girl of indecent exposure. She says it because she’s annoyed he was playing with some other kids, and because she’d been shown a porno picture by her older brother and she wanted to see what happens.
Of course the other teachers at the school take this very seriously, there’s a meeting with all the parents and the police are called in. It brought up all the stuff I learned in developmental psychology about false testimony and asking little kids leading questions and they want to say yes because that’s what the questioner seems to want to hear. Lukas’s protestations of course are ignored and the town begins to shun and punish him.
It’s a very dark film, I wouldn’t recommend it to parents of young kids or any teachers – it’s all horribly plausible, a no win situation. That said, it’s a very good film and an interesting companion piece to The Woodsman which I saw when it came out and have never been brave enough to watch again.
The real heartbreak in this film is knowing that Lukas is innocent, and seeing how nasty other people get to him. Spoiler/Trigger warning: his dog is killed. Do not watch this film if animal death upsets you. The stuff with Marcus, his teenage son, was moving and painful to watch. Marcus knows that his father is innocent, but he still has to deal with the prejudices of the town.
The cinematography is stunning – the Danish countryside and the little old town they live in. It’s a cold, quiet movie, without invasive soundtrack – which means you’re left with the raw truth of the characters and their actions.
Does it make me love the people? Yes it does. Showing at the start how sweet and caring Lukas is with the kids makes it hard, and then the horrible horrible things that happen to him. I loved most of the characters actually because they all felt like real humans. It was all very real. Marcus was especially great, and I was so so grateful to Theo in the end.
Mads Mikkelsen gives an amazing performance as Lukas, his disbelief that this is happening, his general optimism slowly giving way to the hunted outsider of the town and to lashing out. It’s extraordinary and it carries the film. Annika Wedderkopp as little Klara is also amazingly good.
Bechdel test: Yes, Grethe the nursery school head teacher talks to Agnes about whether Klara has been sexually abused. There are several other instances of named women talking but it is usually about Lukas.
Theo: The world is full of evil but if we hold on to each other, it goes away.
State of Mind: Fantastic film but holy crow. That was horribly depressing. I had to have a long bath with cheery music playing and read Wodehouse to feel like there was hope for humanity at all.