A review by Brenda Daniels
The Hunt is a 2013 Danish film that was initially screened in South Africa in May 2014 as part of the European Film Festival at Cinema Nouveau. It won a number of awards at the Cannes Film Festival and others, including best actor for Mads Mikkelsen who stars as Lucas in this hard-hitting movie.
Lucas is a kindergarten teacher in a small town in Denmark. He is loved by the little ones and is seen having lots of fun with them. In his private life Lucas enjoys fun of a more raucous kind with a group of men, all of whom have clearly been friends for a long time. Swimming naked in Denmark’s freezing climate and hunting deer are among the group’s activities.
Lucas is also a divorcee with a teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), whom he longs to see. His longings are rewarded by Marcus’ eventual wish to come and live with his dad.
Before this happy reunion can come to pass, however, things change dramatically for Lucas. Through a series of simply portrayed events Lucas finds himself accused of child molestation. And it is here that we see the film’s title “The Hunt” coming sharply into focus. From colleagues, to parents, townsmen to friends, most of the people in this small town turn on Lucas with a violence that is hard to watch. Police and the law appear only as a vague accusatory presence.
It is the personal betrayal, the stumbling, scuffling attacks on this man’s dignity by people he knows that are so deeply hurtful, and harsher than any “action” film I’ve seen. A line spoken by Lucas’ best friend goes something like this: “There’s evil all around us but if we stay together we keep the evil out.” The evil without (us) or the evil within (us), I wonder.
The Hunt is an excellent and deeply disturbing portrayal of cruelty and human nature. As intense as it is to watch I do highly recommend it. It opens at Cinema Nouveau Theatres in South Africa on 3 October.