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The Hunt

by Leonard Maltin
July 12, 2013 12:07 AM
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Mads Mikkelsen-The Hunt-485
Photo credit: Charlotte Bruus-Christensen - Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
When a film dramatizes a credible situation—as A Hijacking recently did—and holds you in its grip, even as it makes you squirm with discomfort, that’s storytelling above and beyond the norm. Danish writer-director Thomas Vinterberg, who helped to forge the international Dogme movement in the 1990s, aims at both the head and the heart with The Hunt, which he wrote with Tobias Lindholm (who made A Hijacking). It doesn’t hurt that he has, as his star, the gifted actor Mads Mikkelsen.

The subject is deceptively simple: a divorced schoolteacher is working, temporarily, at a neighborhood kindergarten where he is a devoted caretaker of the rowdy young children. One of them, a precious five-year-old girl who lives next door—and is, in fact, the daughter of his closest friend—gets angry with him one day and tells the kindergarten supervisor that he did something inappropriate with her. The woman is shocked but knows it is imperative that she act. The problem: he is considered guilty from the moment the issue is raised, and not even the child can undo what’s been done. He’s a marked man. Only we in the audience know for certain that he is innocent.

The power of The Hunt is that forces us to ponder how we would respond in a similar situation. Would we shun a lifelong friend or believe a 5-year-old with a vivid imagination? Could we ever look at a neighbor the same way after hearing such an accusation?

The characters in Vinterberg and Lindholm’s screenplay are not symbolic. They’re real people, leading imperfect lives; they don’t always make good choices. But we can relate to their feelings, and their actions, at every turn of this searing drama. And we come to understand that there are no easy solutions once this particular snowball starts rolling.

The Hunt is as riveting as any Hollywood thriller but it contains no hint of contrivance or melodrama. It’s as powerful as a punch to the gut.



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  • Bob | July 13, 2013 10:10 AMReply

    I first watched the trailer to this film several months ago; This was during another similar and very real life, stomach twisting experience in my lifelong local community.
    It was my best friend's father, who was also very much a father figure to me to growing up. Once something like this lands in the local newspaper of small town where almost everybody knows each other, who knows what any one person might think at first glance to the brief--- ("GUILTY before proven innocent" ) article.
    The trailer for this film made me feel very uneasy; While I have not seen the film, my buddy's family experienced the real version! I feel it's an important issue for viewers and people alike to think about. It can happen to anyone.

    I'll end this lengthy (comment board) insert on a lighter note. My friend and his family made it through one of the toughest, year-long experiences that a family could ever go through. I'm thankful for all of the local support that they had. They got through and now they're stronger than any family could ever be.

  • Sebastian | July 12, 2013 12:46 PMReply

    This is such a great film and Maltin really manages to describe the powerful and unforgettable experience you get when watching this film. However, this is the only film by Vinterberg I've seen.

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