The Hunt


Features, Film, Review | by — November 26, 2012

Tags: ,

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Starring Mads Mikkelsen
In UK  cinemas November 30, 2012

by Ruth Thomson

In compelling Danish drama The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen is Lucas – an easy going nursery assistant in a small tight knit community. Life is on the up – he’s on the brink of a new relationship and his antagonistic ex-wife has allowed their teenage son to move in with him. All this changes drastically when Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), a child at the nursery and the daughter of his best friend, accuses him of abuse.

Make no mistake, Klara is not some pre-pubescent temptress: she is a tiny child, perhaps 5 or 6 years old. The portrayal of her burgeoning feelings for Lucas is exquisitely done, and what’s most intriguing about this film is its bold illustration of a child’s sexual confusion. With her parents noisily arguing over who’ll take her to nursery, and her older brother and his obnoxious teenage friend sticking an i-pad full of porn in front of her small perplexed face, it’s easy to see why Klara responds to Lukas’ pseudo-paternal friendliness. When he picks up on her crush and gently explains that she should be concentrating on the boys in her class, the stage is set for his undoing.

Mikkelsen (who won best actor in Cannes) makes good use of his Le Chiffre-esque cheekbones even as this wrongly accused everyman. But to me the star of the show is diminutive Wedderkopp. With a few snorty sniffs and nose twitches she drops the seeds of doubt into the mind of Grethe the nursery boss, going in an instant from angelic blonde ikea ad to something much darker. The drama and suspense is strong throughout but there are some aspects to the plot which stretch credibility slightly. The otherwise reasonable Grethe immediately believes Klara’s accusations despite Lukas’ obvious salt of the earth standing in the community and there is no indication that he be given the opportunity to explain or deny the accusations. A few ‘small town turning on a local’ clichés also appear – a rock comes through his kitchen window, he’s barred from the local grocery store, his beloved pet dog meets an unfortunate end…

The Hunt to an extent repeats what we have seen and heard many times before – that the merest suggestion of child abuse can turn a small community against an individual to the exclusion of all reason. But usually these stories are set in the American mid-west, or some other backward place we all feel slightly superior to. That small minded ignorance and mob mentality is also alive and well in the progressive utopia of good looking Scandinavia somehow seems the biggest surprise of all.

Leave a Reply