Film Review: The Hunt

Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt is a powerful and affecting drama. Its strength lies in the fantastic performances and the fine direction.

Kindergarten teacher Lucas is adored by the children he teaches and has many friends in the small community where he lives. When Lucas is accused of abusing a child, his world falls apart. The allegation has a profound effect on the community…

Writer Tobias Lindholm and writer-director Thomas Vinterberg tackle a difficult subject with The Hunt. Rather than sensationalise the topic, the accusation of child abuse is handled in a thoughtful and sensitive manner. The film does not depict clear heroes and villains, the theme rightly calls for a deeper and more multi-faceted approach than this.

Characters are well developed, even those in more minor roles. The Hunt allows viewers to take a number of different vantage points, although the focus is on the accused Lucas. Dialogue appears natural, and it is sometimes the unsaid which is most affecting. The film evokes strong feelings without there ever being a sense of forcing an emotional reaction or aiming to elicit sympathy.

The direction is responsible for much of this reaction. There are ample close ups, particularly focusing on the eyes. Many of the shots linger, giving the audience time to take in the action and reflect upon it. Meanwhile, the long shots work well to effectively emphasise the isolation of Lucas.

Mads Mikkelsen offers a powerful performance as protagonist Lucas. It is difficult not to be moved by the character, played with such authentic suffering. Annika Wedderkopp is also great as Klara, giving a believable performance despite her young age.

The Hunt is perfectly pitched and finely executed. A moving and thought-provoking film.

The Hunt is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.