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(2012)

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10/10
Emotionally draining but truly moving "ripped from the headlines" story
larry-4113 October 2012
"The Hunt" is the latest unflinching drama from Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg. Co-written with Tobias Lindholm, this is an ambitious star vehicle for legendary actor Mads Mikkelsen, an icon in Denmark and familiar face around the world as well. He plays Lucas, a small-town kindergarten teacher. At its heart the story is ultimately a powerful comment on prejudice, based on true incidents, that may leave you emotionally drained but truly moved.

To delve into the plot here would reveal too much. So I'll just say that the film is quite dark and deals with some very difficult subject matter that can be very hard to watch at times. I'll leave it to you to decide if you want to be more aware of the details by looking up a basic synopsis.

This is essentially a one-man show. While supporting cast members are all up to the challenge, Lucas is on on screen virtually every moment of the movie and its overall success rises or falls on his believability. Mikkelsen's delicately underplayed characterization of a man under fire likely won't be appreciated or understood by all viewers. His restrained performance is remarkable and does much to make The Hunt a haunting, memorable experience. Among the children, Annika Wedderkopp's portrayal of Klara is frighteningly brilliant. She steals every scene she's in.

The physical beauty of the production belies the ugliness beneath. Natural lighting is used to match the heights and depths of the kindergarten children's emotions. Their innocence is reflected in its intensity. When surrounded by love, they are glowing. The color palette is warm and inviting. As fear rises, they appear in shadow. The tableau turns increasingly darker as the narrative does.

This is a very quiet and thoughtful experience in many ways. Nikolaj Egelund's score is sparse. Editors Janus Billeskov Jansen and Anne Østerud keep the pace measured and deliberate. The focus is on the story. Long takes without dialogue are quite effective as so much is said in the eyes, in the faces, of Lucas, the kids, and townsfolk. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen allows the lush landscape of the Danish countryside to lull the viewer into a sense of peace, in contrast with the turmoil just under the surface, ready to jump out like a demon in a horror film. But these are real life nightmares, not the product of a genre writer's imagination, which chill to the bone.

Hollywood could never touch this subject and have anywhere near the impact. Backed independently by Swedish and Danish production companies, director Vinterberg actually intended to set and shoot the picture in Canada but better tax incentives and financing led him back to his native country of Denmark. It doesn't matter, though. This is the kind of isolated little village that can be found anywhere in the world.

"The Hunt" was easily the saddest film I've seen all year but in a cathartic way that only a great work of art can accomplish. It's a gritty and hard-hitting statement on our judgmental society that pulls no punches in its recounting of a controversial ripped-from-the-headlines story, repeated all too often in recent history, that's both poignant and polarizing in its authenticity.

It was difficult for me to hold back tears during the screening. I broke down several times. Many will be touched by certain scenes more than others, but "The Hunt" is one of the most affecting and emotional films I've ever seen and one of the best of 2012.
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10/10
Fantastic and compelling
lilibartley17 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see this as part of the London Film Festival on Monday. I have to say that two days later it still resonates in my mind. Yes, it's a common tale that has been told in cinema before(man is wrongly accused and ostracised), but never so well, in my eyes. The acting is first class with no exception and the cinematography is perfect, creating a tense mood throughout the film. It's not for the faint hearted, but I think it's an important subject matter and very current. I've often wondered what it must be like for someone wrongly accused of such a crime and the hysteria that surrounds it. I have read reviews that say this is unrealistic but I don't agree, I only have to look on my own front doorstep in England to see exactly the same sort of behaviour, often far far more intense.

I highly recommend it.
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9/10
Excellent, moving film
Teaber7112 October 2012
I saw this movie yesterday. I agree with previous reviewers, this is an excellent, moving, wonderfully acted movie. It is impossible I think to go through it without being brought to tears at one point or another. You also feel like screaming at some characters sometimes - "what are you doing? Open your eyes! Listen!" But the great thing is you always understand where each character is coming from- you might not agree with their actions, but nothing they do feels forced or unrealistic. Mikkelsen is amazing in this. I had seen him in a few movies before, and always thought highly of him, but here he is just incredible. It's a tough subject matter, and the movie does not shy away from it, but at the same time it is not vulgar or "in your face", it's tactful. I really loved it.
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10/10
A film for those who stupidly believe there's no smoke without fire.
TheSquiss5 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes children lie. Sometimes good people give in to hysteria, and lose all sense of reason. Sometimes they destroy innocent lives. The Hunt (aka Jagten) is the latest offering from Denmark that will knock you sideways. Forget the thrill of TV dramas The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge, Thomas Vinterberg's film is a shocking, harrowing experience that will affect you profoundly and will live in your mind for a very long time. The Hunt is for those who don't need to 'enjoy' a film to regard it as valid and who are not afraid to step into the darkness of the injustice and judgment of which we are all capable. More than that, it is a film for those who stupidly believe there is no smoke without fire. Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a lonely teacher, divorced from his wife, kept apart from his son and devoted to the young children in his care at the nursery and within the community. He is a genuinely good man who has earned the respect of his peers, the love of a new girlfriend and the trust of the children who leap out of hedges to wrestle him and be chased around the playground by him. Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of his best friend, Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) has an innocent, childish crush on Lucas when two situations occur in quick succession. Firstly she is exposed to an explicit pornographic image and, secondly, Lucas gently chastises her for inappropriate behavior towards him. With a fertile imagination, childish indignation and no comprehension of the consequences, Klara makes an accusation against Lucas and his world implodes. For only the fifth time so far this year, I believe I have witnessed a near-perfect film. The Hunt is complete due to the tight screenplay, the sensitivity of Vinterberg's direction and the performances from principal and peripheral actors alike that are always absorbing and frequently astounding. Mikkelsen must certainly be the focal point of any review. His performance as Lucas causes the stomach to tighten and the back tingle as we wonder How would I react? In much the same way that Colin Firth's George crumpled when receiving the news of his partner's death in A Single Man, so Mikkelsen's Lucas is silently crushed as he is told that accusations have been made. Lucas suffers the physical and emotional wounds of slander and revenge for an act he cannot conceive and of which he has less knowledge than those who condemn and attack him. Equally, both Larsen and Anne Louise Hassing as Klara's parents carefully unwrap the turmoil any parent would suffer upon hearing their young child has suffered sexual abuse. It is a challenge not to yell at the screen "Don't be so stupid," or to scream expletives at Grethe (Susse Wold) the head teacher who loses her grip on both duty and reason and germinates the hatred and judgment that follow. As Lucas' son, Marcus, Lasse Fogelstrøm gives a heartfelt performance segueing seamlessly from courage to hurt to desperation and anger and his distress is a warning to those given over to rumours. The surprise, no, the absolute shock, with the casting is Wedderkopp. In an adult with twenty years experience on the big screen it would be a breathtaking performance; that this is the debut of a young child is staggering. She is entirely believable as the girl with the vivid imagination and understandable lack of foresight who is lead by over-enthusiastic adults and suffers her own punishment of confusion alone. The tragedy within The Hunt is explicit and unavoidable. The external tragedy is that it will probably not feature on most To See lists because it is both foreign and that the explosions are emotional rather than physical. Although it is Denmark's entry for Best Film in a Foreign Language for the Oscars, I suspect both Mikkelsen and Vinterbeg will be completely overlooked in their own right as with the principals of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Thank goodness for the BAFTAS and Mark Kermode! The events depicted in The Hunt are utterly horrific. Don't sit in front of the screen expecting a light, easy, thought provoking flick. I emerged numb, angry, helpless and terrified. But for one careless or cruel comment, it could happen to me. Or you.
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10/10
This is a Film with a capital "F"
ovidiu-moisescu24 March 2013
I've been an IMDb user for several years. Still, this is my first review.

After watching this Film, I just felt the urge to praise it. So here it is: thanks to the writer, director, actors and all those who created this masterpiece. It really has the power to convey real feelings to the watcher. Even though I kept telling to myself it was just a movie, it still made me care for the characters.

It's a shame that such Films are not promoted as they should be. I am so sorry I had no idea about Danish cinematography until now. This movie will make stay alert for any new Danish production and look for older ones in a desperate try to recover what you could've experienced instead of all the commercial movie offer of Hollywood.
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9/10
Finding His Way In The Forest
fonofanatical3 September 2013
Here in the small town where I reside, our local newspaper had a recent headline that a beloved teacher was suspected of improper contact with a student. The article was complete along with his picture and I felt that this teacher's life was over as he knew it whether the information was accurate or false. I felt that I would withhold judgement pending an accurate and a detailed investigation, but I know that others would not give the teacher this courtesy. Human nature is an interesting thing to observe and we often get trapped in our own snares with comments such as "I really can't tolerate judgemental people".

Recently I saw another Danish movie "The Hijacking" and was so impressed with it, that I sought out this movie as it was also a highly regarded project. I'm glad I did. The movie reflected the idea of a rush to judgement and all the implications of how society reacts when information is inaccurately reinforced.

The title of the movie, "The Hunt" is symbolic of Lucas's hunt for justice, but also feeling like the hunted. It begins with friends at a hunting camp drinking & celebrating but this hunt is all a metaphor for Lucas's life. Perhaps it was best expressed when his son got a family heirloom hunting rifle and it was said that now he was old enough to find his way in the forest. "The Hunt" is really about such a journey and the forest was thick with assumptions, accusations, hatred, betrayal, and a host of other thorns, briars, branches and such things to trip up the journey. Having felt like he was being hunted through a community's narrow rifle scope of understanding, Lucas's idea of hunting is ultimately altered....and believably so.

Vinterberg does a masterful job of story telling and in such a way that we hear a morality tale. Yes, many times the information we are told in the news is correct. But what if it isn't? What price is paid by the victim and his/her family? If you want to watch a movie that is different from the typical Hollywood variety and gives you reason to search more deeply before believing what you see and hear, watch "The Hunt" and see if you would find your way through the same forest that Lucas traveled. Few of us would be able to do so....
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9/10
Who would have thought a Danish Art House film could be so thoroughly gripping?
Hawkensian6 March 2013
'The Hunt' is a truly accomplished film, its simple premise and themes are executed perfectly. The film is hugely engrossing and completely and utterly infuriating, which is a testament to the merits of its acting, direction, script and hyper-realism.

The film follows Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a lonely primary school teacher who relishes his job and is popular with both the children and the local community. Just as he meets Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) and begins a relationship with her, his relationship with another woman, 5-year-old Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), lands him in immeasurable trouble. What happens is a completely innocuous misunderstanding, but the community, the 'adults' who are supposed to be rational and fair, turn into a lynch mob.

The film is about the danger of mass-hysteria, ignorance and subsequently the frightening power of numbers. It teaches the importance of measure and consideration; it's a much needed anecdote to the sensational vilification, general ignorance and trashy media that permeates our lives.

It's the scare-mongering, amoral tabloids that help in empowering the dangerously ignorant lynch-mobs that arise whenever someone screams 'paedophile!' or 'woman beater!' These lynch-mobs normally consist of pugnacious, dreadful people who enjoy drama and violence rather than actually care about their cause.

The film is intelligently and thoughtfully written. The girl is by no means vindictive; as much as you want to vent your anger, she's clearly far too young to understand what is happening. It's the 'adults' who display their stupidity, their total lack of reasoning and fairness left me indignant for the entirety of the running time and subsequently the whole evening – the film really works.

There is a palpable sense of danger throughout the film, you genuinely fear for Lucas' life; seldom have I empathised with a character so dearly. Who would've thought a Danish Art House film could be so thoroughly gripping?

'The Hunt' is a thought provoking, tactful and important film that should be seen by as many people as possible. It's one of the best films of 2012.

www.hawkensian.com
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10/10
The narrative's genius embeds observer-effect with great accuracy — unforgettable masterpiece.
aequus31416 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Consider first the setting. It may be quiet and idyllic, but merry laughter and droll humour open the scene.

A group of middle-aged manboys are clowning around by the lake. They are long-time friends of The Hunt's central character, Lucas — bespectacled 42 year old ex-professor, recently divorced and too old to be waddling in the water like a toddler at playtime.

But the time is November in this unknown Danish village and everyone is having a good time in yet another get-together. Friends have known each other for years, people know people on a first name basis, many have lived here for generations and Lucas, is just another face in this jolly, close-knit community — nondescript and mellow, respected and well-liked.

We are told that Lucas (played with artful and refined precision by Mads Mikkelsen) is not without the woes that come with modern adult life. Living alone and seeking custody of teenage son Marcus (newcomer Lasse Fogelstrøm), he is an ordinary man trying to rebuild from ground up as a kindergarten teacher. Immediately you can see that he is kind and friendly because Lucas walks young Klara home, and chats with her father, also his best friend, Theo. The two men share lasagne while fussing over pet dogs and hunting rifles. You acknowledge that Lucas has earned his place in this neighbourhood and relationships are in complete accord.

Then the maiming of his middle-class existence begins.

Klara develops a schoolgirl crush and puerile gestures are sensibly rebuffed. Nothing unpredictable or startling at this point. You've heard of such awkward incidents before. But Lucas is then accused of something he did not commit because Klara said something to avenge an earlier rejection.

This is where The Hunt succeeds with penetrating insights into social phenomenon — soon after she causes harm, Klara attempts to recant the accusation without success. Here, writer-director Thomas Vinterberg absolves Klara from absolute blame and sets the stage for unreasonable and sinister conclusions.

Watching the film from here on out is an unforgettable and riveting experience.

It is natural to assume The Hunt simply alludes to the concept of "Witch Hunt", and contents itself with being dramatized fiction about falsely accusing the innocent. But if that were so, the brilliant scene where Klara was interviewed would not have alarmed with its disturbing methodology.

The narrative's genius embeds observer-effect with great accuracy and insight into expectations of Klara, and her subsequent reaction. Vinterberg denies us simple solutions in which adults are perceptive enough to decipher the truth. For example, Ole the counsellor, ushered in from an unknown organization is scruffy and slightly unkempt. Characteristically unlikeable, he wears an implicit stereotype on his face and contaminates Klara's testimony by coaxing with a few hints, "Do you remember, if something white came out?"

She stares blankly, yet revulsion grows and collective hysteria spreads — allowing The Hunt to unveil itself as a carefully executed masterpiece. The clues match only because suggestive prompts are pushing the limits of disturbing reality.

The canvas is visually precise; casting is pitch-perfect (especially that of Annika Wedderkopp in her excellent portrayal of Klara) and the script is cautiously penned.

Based on transcripts of police interrogations conducted on suspected paedophiles in Denmark, the US and several European countries; Vinterberg investigates cause-effect with chilling authenticity.

There is no doubt that The Hunt is antithesis to "Festen", an earlier work depicting the same subject matter but don't be mistaken — this film does not involve itself with controversial material for the sake of obligatory endorsements.

Relentless and intense plot is enriched by characters reacting with protective instincts that come naturally simply because they care for one another. We see the internal worlds of Lucas, Theo, Marcus and Klara, and observe the impact of rotten dynamic unfolding before our very eyes. This forces us, spectators with an omniscient view to sit-up and question judgement using rational exactitude.

Short analysis of the ending >>> The Hunt is a superb, penetrating study of human agency and in the end, some mysteries remain unknowable. There are several narratives attempting to interpret the final scene, and who the shooter really is. This person may very well be the same culprit who killed Fanny. Is it Klara's older brother, who has demonstrated protectiveness over her? Perhaps a disgruntled retail assistant from the grocery store? Maybe a figment of Lucas's anxious imagination from knowing life can easily cast him from the status of a hunter to that of a prey?

These questions continue to linger because The Hunt's technical finish is open-form and resists finite closure. The image of an unknown rifleman, indistinct and in hiding is a conveyor of figurative conclusions. By doing such, Vinterberg employs artistic device to suggest that attitudes may be outwardly placid, but remain violent and embittered covertly. Just as it is with real life, some hostility can't be neutralized and a malevolent presence continues to loom over the horizon, willing to perpetuate an abyss of moral panic.

https://cinemainterruptus.wordpress.com
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9/10
It's like a really messed up episode of Kids Say the Darndest Things.
ArmyOfSickness25 July 2012
I just saw The Hunt at the New Zealand International Film Festival and I walked out speechless. The Hunt has such a difficult story to tell but the film makers never go too far with little exposition. The film doesn't take one side over another, making the point that there isn't really any "bad guys" in the film, just people on opposite sides of one coin. The script is shocking, tragic and at times funny. The film is very intimately shot with an almost documentary approach. The film is mostly shot hand-held, giving you the feeling of realism. The camera likes to get in close and hold on the actors eyes and it is the eyes that tell the story. Most of the story is told through what was not being said, but instead with looks and pauses. Mads Mikkelsen is stunning as always as the man accused of sexual abuse. He plays the role with such sensitivity to the character but always keeps you guessing throughout the film. Annika Wedderkopp plays the role of the innocent young girl to perfection, again always keeping you guessing. Their relationship being one of the most interesting I've seen on film this year. If I had one complaint it would be that the main plot ends quite abruptly, not leaving me fully satisfied before it goes into the epilogue. The Hunt is drama at its best with beautiful performances from the entire cast. It is hard to explain how great this film is without giving away spoilers but the film gives no clear answers for such a difficult subject and it makes you ask yourself, what would I do?
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10/10
Harrowing Film!
WilliamCKH6 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Whenever I watch a great film, I always have a sense of feeling cleansed, as if a soiled part of me has been washed away (for the time being anyway) by something on the screen that touches a better part of my soul. THE HUNT certainly did that for me. The story is a simple one, a man, a teacher, is wrongly accused of sexually misconduct with a young child and his community, filled with old friends and acquaintances, turn on him and make his life a living hell.

Vinterberg's film brings to mind many of the same topics and is loaded with the same visceral feelings that his first film THE CELEBRATION touches upon, sexual deviancy, alienation, the mob mentality of the righteous, mixing innocence with brutality in many of its most heartbreaking scenes. Mikkelsen handles the main character Lucas both with restraint, and a little explosiveness when warranted. It is this fine line between stability and chaos, of the civilized world and anarchy, that give this film an unpredictable quality. The entire cast is wonderful and Vinterberg's direction and writing are spot on. Great Film!
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Classy and disturbing tale of small town injustice.
jdesando19 August 2013
In Thomas Vinterberg's superb psychological thriller, The Hunt, a town turns on its kindergarten teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), from the erroneous testimony of a little girl, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), who accuses him of molesting her. She's also the daughter of his best friend, Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), who believes along with the town that Lucas is guilty because children, especially his daughter, don't lie. Although Klara claims throughout she said a stupid thing and Lucas did nothing, his parents are convinced she is just reacting to the gravity and changing her story. Tragic blindness is not just the province of Oedipus.

The film's title, with bookending male hunting rituals, is obviously figurative for the hunt by the town's people for Lucas's well being. Only too swift is their condemnation, their righteous indignation, blinded by Salem-witch like certainty that he is guilty. The town's vigilante-like attitude is reminiscent of Frankenstein's townsfolk, hounding the monster without even trying to understand.

Beyond the figurative display of crowd wrong-headed mentality is the disturbing suggestion that at any time a life can be turned upside down without even being responsible. It also suggests that the only antidote is to keep believing in yourself.

Maybe more powerful is a sense of humor, which occurs occasionally in the film and is best exemplified when a friend, upon Lucas's return from police headquarters, shouts as Lucas embraces his son, "Hey! If you fondle your kid, you'll go back to jail." It's gallows humor, but it is effective. Just as effective as the ironic humor is the low-key, natural lighting, consistent close-ups, and ubiquitous hand-held camera work. It is an intimate business that closes in on everyone in the town, not just the innocent victim.

Having witnessed through this intense work of art the vulnerability all have in the face of a crowd mentality, we should remember the Chorus's final warning in Oedipus Rex: "Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest; Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest."
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8/10
Dissection of human nature
rubenm24 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Just like he did 14 years ago in Festen, Thomas Vinterberg once again shows us how a closely-knit community reacts to a shocking revelation. In Festen, a family party was spoiled by the revelation of a secret scandal. In Jagten, a group of friends and neighbours turn hostile when one of them is falsely accused of sexually abusing a young child, the daughter of his best friend.

With microscopic precision, Vinterberg dissects the human nature. The accused, Lucas, baffled by the absurdity of the accusation, doesn't even bother to deny clearly. He rejects everyone who shows even the least bit of doubt, including his new girlfriend. His best friend Theo, the father of the young girl, clearly has doubts about Lucas's guilt, but sticks with his wife and daughter. Theo's wife is thoroughly convinced of Lucas's guilt, even when the child indicates he is innocent.

The whole situation evolves into a nightmare for Lucas. He is not prosecuted after a police investigation fails to find any evidence, but the villagers have already made up their minds: he is a child molester. He loses his job, is being rejected by the village community and becomes the victim of violence himself.

The movie is full of extremely intense scenes that make you shift uneasily on your chair. The various confrontations between Lucas and the villagers are very powerful, but so is the subplot about Lucas's son.

A smart decision is that Vinterberg doesn't show anything about the investigation or the prosecution. It isn't important for the story, because the audience knows Lucas is innocent. Instead, the director only shows the way Lucas's friends react and cope with the situation.

Jagten is filmed in a realistic style, without many cinematographic effects. The emotionality of the story and the strong acting are enough to carry the movie. The approach is reminiscent of the Dogma-style from Festen, but the strict Dogma-rules are a thing of the past. In some Christmas scenes, Vinterberg clearly makes use of special lighting techniques to create a cozy atmosphere.

The whole film is a very strong watching experience. The shocking and unexpected ending, which is open for interpretation, is the cherry on the cake.
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10/10
simply wonderful...
milica-vukoje3 March 2013
what can i say?

this movie is simply a masterpiece. this movie is what i hope to see every time i enter a cinema.

this movie is warm, engaging, natural, simple, cruel, human... it is everything at once.

i cried my soul out, it is unbelievable how danish directors (lars von trier and thomas vinterberg) are able to move me with their movies.

story is superb. casting is superb. acting is superb. directing is superb.

they say danish people are cold and detached, denmark being a northern country. no one ever takes me to such an emotional journey as danish directors... i think i should marry a danish guy ;)

let me sum it up with what i already said before: this movie is the reason why i go to the cinema in the first place. not for the entertainment, but for the art. for that feeling that i just read a wonderful book. that feeling of satisfaction that i just did something great for my soul. purging, cleansing of my soul, if i may say it that way.

beautiful.

thank you, thomas vinterberg... and thanks to the rest of the crew.
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7/10
Sometimes we're too quick to see men as monsters
Deathstryke19 December 2012
This film comes right after the hysteria generated by the Jimmy Saville abuse scandals and the revelations about pedophilia within the Catholic Church.

Suffice to say it is refreshing and pertinent to see a story about the damage that can be caused to an innocent man, by a false report. We live in a society that is increasingly insecure and paranoid about pedophilia, rape and abuse. Virgin Airlines won't allow a man to sit next to a child who is traveling alone. Men are given funny looks in playgrounds. Mothers are reported to social workers when they give their screaming kids a slap in public.

This film demonstrates the danger that comes from that hysteria and reminds us all that children, for whatever reason, do not always tell the truth. The consequences are brutal and made all the more realistic by a stellar cast of actors. I give props to the young actress playing Klara, the girl who makes the false accusation, she was fantastic.

Distressing, highly emotional, but unlike an American movie, never over-bearing in its sentimentality, minus one or two slightly cliché metaphors in the dialogue. It makes you empathize with all the characters, not just the protagonist and really makes you think about what you would do if you found yourself, or someone you loved, in that situation.
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9/10
A shocking picture of injustice and paranoia
howard.schumann24 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
According to English Professor Jack Lynch, "Lies, once they are accepted as true, take on a life of their own, one that lasts long after the original falsehoods have been exposed." The power of the continued acceptance of lies is reflected in Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt, the disturbing story of the false accusation of a kindergarten teacher of sexual abuse. It is an accusation that reveals the sordid underbelly of a small town, hidden beneath the veneer of middle-class civility. Written by Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, The Hunt is a thought-provoking drama that makes us aware both of the vigilance needed to protect our children from predators, and of the crucial importance of following the precept that an individual is innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.

Mads Mikkelsen is Lucas, is a caring kindergarten teacher who has been recently divorced and shares custody of his teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom). He has a good relationship with his students, especially six-year-old Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) and his wife Agnes (Anne Louise Hassing). Lucas walks her home from school when her parents are late in picking her up and she obviously likes him very much. In class one day, Klara kisses Lucas on the lips but is admonished by him that kissing on the lips is only for mum and dad. Sparked by seeing images on her bother's iPod, she tells kindergarten head Grethe (Susse Wold) that she doesn't like Lucas anymore because he has a "weenie." When Grethe tells her that this is normal because every man has one, Klara tells her that his was "straight and pointed." The incident is forgotten about for a few days until Grethe realizes that "children never lie", and begins questioning the little girl again, coming to the decision that sexual abuse has occurred and that some action must be taken. Though Klara now says that she cannot remember, her parents attribute her loss of memory to trying to forget what is uncomfortable. Calling a group of parents together, Grethe accuses Lucas before the parents, telling them the signs to watch out for in their own children. Slowly, the word gets around of widespread abuse at the school, though Lucas remains in the dark because Grethe refuses to give him any details about the accusations.

Word spreads by hearsay, gossip, and innuendo as a child psychologist, teachers, parents, and eventually the police are brought in, but no through investigation is ever conducted. Klara is questioned again (questions taken directly from the transcripts of actual police cases) and it is obvious she is a confused little girl who tells the adults what they want to hear. Vinterberg ratchets up the tension and we sense the world closing in on the embattled teacher. Though Lucas' male friends in the community have a long-lasting bond, they break the ties of their close-knit group and turn against one of their own.

Lucas and Marcus are denied the right to shop in the local market even to the point of threats and violence, his best friend Theo rejects him, and even his girlfriend Nadja (Alkexandra Rapaport) asks him if he's insane or sick. Lucas' only friend is Marcus' godfather, Bruun (Lars Ranthe), who soothes his friend's psyche with black humor. After Lucas is arrested, a preliminary hearing rules that there is not enough evidence to hold him and he is released, but this does not stop the violence. A rock is tossed through his window and neighborhood thugs take out their aggression on his dog Fanny.

The Hunt is a harrowing experience that is not an easy film to watch, especially if the viewer has had past experience with the subject. The exceptional performances, however, make it easier to appreciate. They are not only from Mikkelson who won Best Actor at Cannes, but also from Fogelstrom as Lucas' loving and supportive son, Ranthe who keeps Lucas afloat, and especially that of seven-year-old actress Annika Wedderkopp who is so angelic that we never turn against her even though we know she is lying. While some critics bemoan the fact that this kind of story has been told before, it has never been told like this, building with inexorable power from the warmth of small-town conviviality to a shocking picture of injustice and paranoia that hits us right in the solar plexus.
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10/10
He doesn't have a basement....
FlashCallahan6 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There is a moment in this masterpiece when you know that that is the part that is going to spiral someone's life out of control. And in this movie, it's the split second scene where Klaras brother shows her an indecent picture on the IPad.

It's not served to you on a plate, but its little subtle things like this, that make this movie the harrowing piece it is.

Mikkelsen is wonderful as Lucas, a lonely teacher who is just trying to get his life back on track. His son is about to move in with him, and he has met a potential partner, but when Klara, his best friends daughter makes him a gift, and he refuses it because he feels its inappropriate, she tells the teacher a lie, that will shake the whole community.

As the viewer, you feel so much empathy for Lucas, because you know that his career is over, and that his life will never be the same, but at the same time, you feel anger toward the rest of the community, because they banish him, without letting him speak.

Its a taboo subject, because any sane person would take the youngsters side, but it's the fact that when she says to her mother she made it up, the mother just brushes it off, and it gets worse and worse for Lucas.

It really is a hard hitting film, the cast are wonderful, and having it set around Christ,as, gives the mood an even more lonely feel for Lucas.

It's not for all tastes, it will leave you exhausted, especially the final scene, which leaves you knowing that Lucas will always be guilty to some, even though it's been proved otherwise.

Essential viewing.
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10/10
It hurts...
RainDogJr1 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is the most powerful drama I had the fortune to experience this past year. It's up there with Michael Haneke's AMOUR, but this definitely made me *feel* more. When, near the ending of THE HUNT, we have some hope for the protagonist, a kindergarten teacher who has been unjustly accused of child molestation, I actually thought something like "I hope the movie ends right now!"

This because Thomas Vinterberg (director of movies like FESTEN and DEAR WENDY) makes us feel each and every moment of the great injustice that is shown in the screen. Yes, we feel for the protagonist Lucas (top-notch performance by Mads Mikkelsen) but also for his family and friends, especially for his teenage son. Obviously the, really wished, "happy ending" is highly unlikely as this is a realistic portrait of human nature.

In the beginning of the film we have a group of Danish hunters (Lucas included) sharing good times, drinking, talking, just having fun. Apparently they're a real "family" of friends. The little daughter of Lucas' best friend is the one who begins the sexual abuse rumor, by telling the kindergarten director that Lucas showed her his penis. The parents of this girl didn't give her the enough attention; finding more important to be arguing than taking her to school, for instance. And Lucas was there to help the girl – it's a really ironic film.

The way the families of the supposedly victims react; how the behavior of a family affects their infants; the general thought we have about children; and also those subjects of violence and friendship. Everything is shown here in a very credible way. The violence really "hurts" you; and I think if a film like THE HUNT doesn't provokes you *rage*, well, none will. Highly recommended, and for sure one of my favorites of 2012.

*Watched it on 26 December, 2012
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5/10
I'll cast the first stone
Karl Self31 March 2013
A mid-aged man is just coming out of crisis. His wife has left him with their son, but he has found a new job as a Kindergarten teacher. Then a girl from his group makes accusations that he has indecently exposed himself to her; unable to prove his innocence, he is hunted by the entire community, including his childhood friends.

A chilling and fundamentally plausible story, but I thought the movie didn't handle it well. Untypically for director Thomas Vinterberg, who came to acclaim with an eerily similar story (a pater familias is exposed to accusations during a family celebration that he has raped his children), the film didn't come across as credible to me. Instead, it felt like a sensationalist TV movie, and it was also dragging on. I didn't like the way the relationship between Lucas and Nadja was handled, it felt like they were jumping their bones rather than developing a relationship -- at times it felt like Nadja was almost stalking Lucas. And it's always problematic when a native actor or actress (such as Alexandra Rapaport, who -- despite her Polish roots and exotic looks -- is born in Denmark) has to play a foreigner with little language skills. It would have been a much better movie with more understatement -- especially, if there had been some doubt in the community, rather than everybody instantly "buying" the accusation (for example, the headmistress of the small Kindergarten says that "children don't lie", which seems ludicrous, especially since she says previously that Klara -- the girl making the accusation -- is prone to telling fibs). The movie would have been much more involving if it had focused more on the ultimate impossibility of refuting such an accusation, the creeping doubts, rather than almost everyone taking the stance "the little girl said it, so it must be true" and running a vendetta against Lucas.

Only in the end does the movie capture this ambiguity.
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10/10
Wow.
BeautifulDisaster52877 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A Little History - I have a wide range of actors that I love. Most of the time, I like to backtrack through a couple of their previous films when I like them a lot, and then I just get on with it. Not the case here. I decided to start watching Hannibal about 6 months after it aired and I got my first good look at a spectacular Danish actor named Mads Mikkelsen. He is extremely talented but, judging by the fact that I love horror films, have seen Silence Of The Lambs numerous times, and figured the television show could never match the talents of the wonderful Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, I wrote it off. Until about three episodes in when this God of Danish cinema showed off his talents. After the show, and because I adore foreign cinema, I decided to binge on every single one of his movies. That my friends, is how I came across The Hunt.

The Basics - So after giving you the background of what I've been doing for the past couple of months, this is the first of many Mads movies I chose. I have some background with Danish cinema and am an avid Von Trier fan so I know Danish films have amazing potential. The movie stars M.M. as a single father named Lucas who leads a lonely life teaching primary school and striving for custody of his son. He has a likable group of friends including his best friend Theo, who has a wife and child Lucas is close with as well. Everything is going smooth until one day, a small lie changes the course of Lucas's life.

It Would Probably Be Better - For you to go in blind as I did...just beware, this is a tough number to swallow. It is unrelenting and uncomfortable, however, don't let that scare you away...you should see it, everyone should see it.

Mad For Mads - My God is he exquisite in his craft...he practically carries the entire film and does so with a passion not many actors have. This film bumped him into my 'favorites' for sure. You can just feel every thought, every ounce of pain and turmoil he is going through...it's harrowing and heartbreaking and I was crying at the end.

Best Scenes - 1. The scene in the convenience store is amazing. You are rooting for Lucas the entire time. 2. The scene when you realize that though everyone is against him...he still has a couple of people on his side. 3. The scene in the church (which if you've seen the trailer, you get a small glimpse of) took my breath away and had me wiping tears.

Overall - This movie is a tough watch, but rewarding nonetheless due to its well told story and outstanding acting. It was the first of many Mads movies I've played - also the first of many that had me crying - and a firm step back into the world of heart wrenching Danish cinema. I strongly recommend the watch.

Verdict - 10/10 Stars. You can view all of my reviews at http://dianalynn5287.blogspot.com/
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3/10
I'm sorry but this was story was full of holes
robinabas218 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I hate to give this a bad review as I am a big fan of Mads BUT there are so many ridiculous parts to this story I can not believe how people have rated it. As a teacher, firstly the whole premise of this film is that 'kids never lie' well I'm sorry but any teacher who's been in the job more than a day knows that kids lie all the time. Secondly the other kids would not just make stories up about being abused - and collaborate on a story; especially at a nursery.

Why did he never mention the fact she had tried to kiss him?! I found it so frustrating I almost switched it off.

They would never send a male to interview a female student and they do not use such direct questioning. A teacher would not get sacked without even asking where the abuse is said to have taken place.

Finally, although the film is beautifully shot and Mads plays the role brilliantly his 'best friend' had the most ridiculous fake beard I've seen since the Life of Brian.
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5/10
Compelling Premise Becomes Preposterous
evanston_dad7 February 2014
"The Hunt," the latest from Thomas Vinterberg, takes a compelling premise but pushes its credibility, and its audience's patience, so far that any impact the film might have had is blunted under the weight of its preposterousness.

Mads Mikkelsen plays a kindergarten teacher who is accused by a little girl of exposing himself to her. We know from the start he's not guilty, and that the girl says what she does out of a combination of confusion and anger. But as soon as the idea is planted in the heads of the teachers and parents, they use it to go on a witch hunt with one person as their target.

Watching the film is sort of like watching a car accident in slow motion. We see one bad decision pile itself on top of another, and a situation that could have easily (or at least more efficiently) been resolved instead turn into a spiraling nightmare. The problem is that the events in the film don't make any sense (or at least didn't to this American viewer). The kindergarten teacher who first hears of the allegations decides to call in the mom of the little girl, tell her that her daughter may have been molested, and then says there isn't anything else to discuss at that moment in time!! And the mom accepts that!!! And then the teacher announces at that evening's parent/teacher night that all of their children might also have been molested, and hands out informational pamphlets!!!! And none of the parents ask any questions!!!!!! Maybe there's a cultural disconnect, but I can't imagine parents in any country handling this situation in the way it's portrayed in this film.

And the implausibilities just add up from there. A much more effective and interesting film would have found people following proper procedures and still not being able to shake their inherent knee-jerk prejudices. But an incident like the one in this film, or any incident for that matter, is of course going to get out of control if everyone acts as crazy as they do in this movie. The film manipulates its characters into doing things that it doesn't seem plausible people would actually do, just to make a point. That's called building up a straw man argument, which are famous for being able to knock down.

Perhaps Vinterberg means for his film to be morbidly funny, a black comedy of the absurd. But if so, he doesn't handle the material well enough to make that clear. He invites us to scratch our heads in disbelief at how poorly people can behave, but doesn't make those people's behavior believable enough for us to care.

Grade: B-
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10/10
excellent drama that is tough to watch
Quinoa198421 May 2015
The thing about Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt that you should know is that there's no "twist" or big revelation. There's no real ambiguity about whether or not Lucas touched or 'showed' himself to little Klara, the daughter of Lucas' best friend. If there were, this might be a very different movie - perhaps even one that leaned on being dishonest with the audience about the 'did he or didn't he' intentions. It's clear enough early on that Klara isn't telling the whole truth when she mentions to one of the other Kindergarten workers about the "rod" that stands up (meaning the penis), but it doesn't mean she's exactly lying either, just confused in that way that little kids who don't know anything about sex might be if, say, shown a very brief image of a "rod". So there's that. But what The Hunt is really about is perception and how quickly people can turn on someone with a target on them - guilt or no guilt, but especially in the case of not guilty - like with Lucas.

Vinterberg expertly sets up this problem by first showing life as (relatively) normal - Lucas is a father in the process of a divorce, has a great group of guy friends (the kind of Denmark/Sweden/etc who come together, sometimes swim naked in the cold, and drink a lot and sing), and is a teacher at a Kindergarten school. Nothing is shown with any heightened drama, all the cuts to someone in a moment are to show the progression of a moment or a scene - closer to documentary than anything, at least at first - and this helps make the mood past any melodrama for what's to come. Or, if there may be melodrama ahead, it won't be circumspect for the audience: real families in a small town, really close-knit, Church-going, loving, pleasant... and underneath is a whole lot of fear, which can switch to anger, resentment, and horror.

Mikkelson is great in the role, and he may be surprising for those who haven't seen him as a villain in other films (he was a Bond villain once, or if he wasn't he will be someday), as well as the title role of Hannibal Lector on the recent TV series. I haven't seen that show yet, but even if I had it wouldn't change how he works in this film. Could there be any hint in his performance of any evil or misdeeds capable of him? Not far as we can see, though there is that scene where Lucas is first brought in to his superior's office and told of the accusation made. Watch his body language, how his face looks and reacts to this. It could look either way - for the person looking for it, he smacks his lips, he quivers just slightly, he doesn't come out and say 'I didn't do it', but we should know that he didn't. But does the other character know? With something like child molestation?

The topic is so hot-button, whether it's more in the United States or over in Denmark I can't tell, but the safety (and reliability) of a child is such a crucial thing in daily life that it makes for such powerful, potent stuff for The Hunt, as the accusation spirals out - are there other kids(!) just by nightmares and headaches who can tell - and ruins his life, whether he's found guilty or (especially) not. The last act especially is tough to watch as morality is questioned and the mob mentality of a town takes over (not to extreme heights, this isn't Fritz Lang or something, but close enough, realistically enough, just with all those faces).

Quiet scenes punctuate a lot of this film, as much as the brutal ones where rage and bewilderment overflow, like shots of someone having to do something tragic in the rain, and it all builds up to something that is hard to watch. I mean that as a compliment, though it should be said that this is the kind of film I'm not sure I can watch very soon again: it strikes such resonant chords and presents its characters so honestly, the ones looking for grace and those who just cannot, that it's hard not to feel shaken up after it.
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8/10
Gossip kills
stensson12 May 2013
Vinterberg has made many disturbing movies in the good sense. This is no exception. The 42-year-old male assistant at a daycare center is falsely accused by a child for sexual abuse. Since children don't lie about such thing, he's doomed. But he's innocent.

A Via Dolorosa starts for Mads Mikkelsen in this little Danish village. There's no smoke without fire and it doesn't matter if the prosecution turns the whole thing down.

It's not that gossip necessarily kills you physically, but it kills your soul. Great drama by Vinterberg, including the interesting subject of friendship between men. What is it worth?
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9/10
The scary thing is that this could happen to almost anyone...
MartinHafer18 January 2014
One of my favorite foreign language films it Thomas Vinterberg's "The Celebration" ("Festen"). It's an absorbing tale about sexual abuse--abuse that comes out during a birthday party for a beloved family patriarch. Now, with "The Hunt" ("Jagten"), Vinterberg directs a film where quite the opposite happens--a man is accused of sexual abuse but who is 100% innocent. Had the director always done films denying sexual abuse, folks might have thought him strange but here the brave director allows himself to go in a completely different direction with his movie.

In his film, Mads Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a divorced father who works at a kindergarten. He seems like a genuinely nice man and is trying to get his life together. He has a new girlfriend, his son wants to come live with him and he has no reason to expect what happens. A very young girl is shown some pornographic material by some older boys and later in passing she tells another teacher that she has seen Lucas' penis when she actually didn't. Some folks investigate and ask leading questions--and suddenly there is a bit of hysteria as the community assumes Lucas is guilty--even his so-called friends. And, no matter what he does, he cannot PROVE he never did anything.

So is the film any good? Well, based on it now being on IMDb's Top 250 list (at number 133), it's obvious a lot of folks loved the film. With a current score of 8.3, it's not at all surprising it would be nominated for the Oscar. As for me, I thought the film was terrific and thought-provoking. It made its point very well by using VERY vivid scenes involving the community literally tormenting Lucas. You can't help but feel affected by the drama--thanks to the script by Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg himself.

I did have one problem with the film--and this is why I didn't score it a 10. Although I think such a theme is great stuff for older kids and teens to watch with their folks, there are a few graphic scenes that were unnecessary for the film and which would probably make many of these parents not show the movie to their families. I think the kids need to see the violence against Lucas but the sex scene and photo weren't really needed in the film. A very light trimming would have made this a great film for ages 12 and older. Now, because it's rated R in the US, it's unlikely these younger viewers would get to see it. This film needs to be seen by a wide audience as it's very, very well made and worth seeing.

By the way, in many ways, this film is like a dramatization of what occurred in the very famous McMartin Pre-School case here in America. Apparently, some very unqualified interviewers screwed up a case and soon had half the school accused of sexual abuse. Some of the stories they reported were downright insane (such as their victimizers being able to fly). Many folks were prosecuted and only later did folks realize what had occurred--a serious rush to judgment. And, as there was no real proof, the accused were all acquitted--but only after years and years of investigations and trials. And, in one case, one of the accused spent five years in jail despite no ultimate conviction.

Also, if you are curious about me, I used to work with sexual abuse victims and perpetrators as a therapist. I am NOT minimizing sexual abuse claims in my review of the film. Too many women are ignored or treated like dirt when they are victims--I've seen this myself. It's just the unqualified and irresponsible interviews with very small children that bothers me. I've worked with many folks in the field and saw that most interviewers (at least back in the 1980s and 90s) were woefully untrained and potentially dangerous because of this.
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10/10
If you want proof that Mads Mikkelsen is one of the finest actors around look no further.
azanti00293 April 2013
I would easily rate this film as the best I saw in 2012. Not an easy watch by any means, the story revolves around a Danish Primary School Teacher who is accused of molesting a child from his class. In circumstances that are as believable as they are positively frightening paranoia becomes evidence as the wrong questions are asked by the wrong people and poor Lucas finds himself suspended from his job and becomes the town pariah in a very small community. As the hate and abuse begins to mount and with his own girlfriend doubting him, Lucas wonders if his life will ever be the same as he struggles to try and prove his innocence.

As besets the calm manner of the Danes, the acting here is beautifully observed and subtly explored in a range of superb performances by the whole cast. Special mention must go to the younger members of the cast who are simply outstanding and credit too, to the director for being able to guide them through what must have been very tricky scenes.

A superb watch for anyone who wants to see either a dam good thriller or some fine actors at work, this simply is first rate. The social dichotomy at work in the script and the uncomfortable issues explores are so relevant in todays society, that this really is a film that every Sun and Daily Mail reader should be forced to watch. Outstanding all round.
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