REVIEW: The Hunt

30 05 2012

Cannes Film Festival

I wasn’t invited to serve on Nanni Moretti’s jury this year, but if I had been, my vote for the Palme D’Or would have gone to Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt” without question or hesitation.  More than any of the twelve competition films I saw, it captivated me from the outset and proceeded to shake me to my core all the way to its jarring ending.  Much like “In a Better World” or “The Class,” this film has the ability to play well in any country and in any language due to the universality of its story.

I quickly forgot I was reading subtitles as I got drawn into the film’s narrative.  Vinterberg’s film, which he also co-wrote with Tobias Lindholm, has echoes of Arthur Miller, one of the biggest compliments I can provide to a piece of writing.  This contemporary “Crucible” follows Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas, a Danish kindergarten teacher, as he must fend off accusations of indecent exposure to a young child and the ensuing social stigmatization.  While Lucas is reserved, Mikkelsen never lets us doubt for a second that his character is an upright man who is merely the victim of a child’s curiosity being spun into something untrue.

And Mikkelsen, rightful and deserving winner of the Best Actor prize at Cannes, keeps our eyes glued to the screen as we watch the harrowing toll of these false charges on his psyche as well as his estranged son.  The story unfolds rather predictably for the first two acts (no thanks to Arthur Miller), but Mikkelsen really goes unhinged in the film’s finale and absolutely kills it.  As the metaphorically hunted of the film’s title, he begins to strike back against those who defiled his reputation based on baseless and circumstantial evidence.

Ultimately, my hope for “The Hunt” is that it proves to a be a stepping stone made of the finest marble (no pebbles here).  It will hopefully land Mikkelsen some flashy roles in the future beyond Bond villains and supporting roles in deplorable trash like “Clash of the Titans;” this film could provide an entreé into more serious, brooding leading males.  If the world were truly just, he would find his way into the Dolby Theater next March to be recognized by the Hollywood elite at the Oscars.  I can dream, can’t I?

Less likely, although perhaps plausible, is that this movie could be a stepping stone for normal audiences into more serious world cinema.  “The Hunt” could be a great primer for regular folks into thinking that subtitled movies should automatically be skipped, and then they might open the door to movies like “A Separation” that can truly illuminate other worlds and cultures.  Again, an idealistic dream – but without wishful thinkers, where would society be?  A-

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2 responses

31 05 2012
bigthoughtssmallmind

So glad to hear that this film delivers! I loved both The Celebration and Dear Wendy and cannot wait for this one to get released.

1 06 2012
Marshall

I haven’t seen any other of Vinterberg’s films, but I aim to quickly correct that. Magnolia picked up “The Hunt” so hopefully it won’t be too long before this movie is shared with the world!

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