The Hunt (Jagten) is a truly gripping and well written film that is driven by a powerful performance from Mads Mikkelsen. It possesses a rare power that constantly keeps you engaged and bewildered by the act of human accusation. Director Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish drama is centred on a small town kindergarten teacher that is exiled when one of his infant students falsely accuses him of sexual abuse. Lucas is soon the object of more accusations which are all untrue. Naively believing that he will be cleared, the real problem becomes the cruelty and harassment that comes with the accusations. When the whispers reach the town folk, everyone jumps the gun and the cold shoulder violently turns to hostility and viciousness. The accusations shake the very core of Lucas, his family, new girlfriend and his close friends eventually dividing and breaking the group.
Thomas Vinterberg portrays the very idea of the perfect small town folk that can turn into a merciless vigilantly community. Even after knowing Lucas for years the stubborn community refuses to believe him. Vinterberg beautifully orchestrates the tension by showing how hostile your fellow neighbours and towns people can be. Though Lucas stays calm and humble we begin to see his sanity slowly crack with the constantly and enduring cruel treatment. The frustration and stoicism slowly give way as his emotional outburst become more frequent.
One of the best perks of the Hunt is the metaphors we are discreetly subjected to with the deer hunting scenes. The tracking and shooting play a key role as a representation of Lucas at first as the hunter and now the one being hunted. Before Lucas was the shooter and the deer in the eye line of fire, but now he is in the crosshair. Even after when all is calm, some forgive and others don’t. The unforgettable final scene leaves us and our protagonists with a troubling thought that once accused and acquitted, to some you will always be guilty.
Mikkelsen’s magnificent range of raw emotions crusades into a brilliant performance conveying Lucas. When continually pushed to the limit in an intensifying horrible ordeal that builds up to a beautifully heartrending and climactic confrontation at a Christmas church service. The Hunt is a textbook example of what a classic drama should be. It goes in-depth into the creation of realistic characters and is driven by an emotional theme.