The Hunt (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Denmark).
Watched May 12, 2014
Sometimes kids lie, and if we operate under the notion that they are forever truthful, a lot of bad and evil can happen because of it.
What starts out as a simple character study of a decent man who has recently been divorced but sees things start to come around, suddenly becomes a terrifying exploration of human nature and an interesting glimpse into a side of an issue we rarely take time to consider.
Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is currently working at a daycare. He is excellent with the kids and has a very sweet relationship with his best friend’s daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp). He hangs out with the children’s parents at night and goes hunting on the weekends. His friends all worry about him, being lonely in his house, but the custody battle for his son seems to be going positively. Suddenly, however, a crush gone wrong leads Klara to tell a lie that could end Lucas’ life… pretty literally.
Klara tells the daycare owner that Lucas exposed himself to her, and you can imagine that the story and accusations gain momentum from there. We as the audience are pretty sure from the beginning that Lucas is innocent and we know what damage this can do, but Klara is a young girl who doesn’t understand the power of this kind of lie. We watch as slowly, the whole town seems to turn against him. The people who are on his side are impressive displays of unconditional love but they also trust in the knowledge that Lucas is who they think he is. Klara’s father grapples with a host of intense emotions–the protective nature of a father and the disbelief that his best friend is that kind of man.
Mikkelsen is, without a doubt, the driving force behind the success of this film. He won best actor at Cannes Film Festival. His character slinks through the next weeks and months, having not been charged because of a lack of evidence, but is refused business and common decency from the community around him. The film at its core explores the nature of “false guilt.” He is treated as more than a criminal. He receives threats, is beaten, and even church members don’t want to see him in their services. Mikkelsen’s acting is superb. He uses “subtle control of his face and voice [to convey] the inner turmoil of a man who is being forced to feel guilty about a crime that never happened” (Roger Ebert).
The film is distinctly actor focused. There appears to be little fuss about setting up shots and most everything is hand held. This keeps the film on a smaller scale. It pulls into the actors and really shows the emotions on their face. In a sense, this a great choice because the film is so incredibly character driven. On the other hand, it limits the narrative a bit and leaves much less symbolism and depth. Sure, a close up can convey the feeling of being “trapped,” but if most of the film is in close ups, the camera work gets stale. That is the only reason I gave this film four stars instead of five. Otherwise it is a complete knock out.
I would recommend this film to almost anyone. Rest assured, you will feel a lot of emotions while viewing this film but I would really consider it worth your time.