The Hunt

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huntPerhaps the most appropriately titled movie of the year, The Hunt involves some hunters, that end up in a witch-hunt against a kindergarten teacher accused of molesting one of his students.

He’s played by Mads Mikkelsen, who deservedly won the Best Actor award at Cannes last year for this role. This Danish actor is probably better known to American audiences for the villains he plays (Clash of the Titans, Casino Royale, and Hannibal Lector on TV). His look brings a great intensity to the role.

We see Mikkelsen is a good friend (saves a mate from drowning, helps his drinking buddies get home), and yet he’s not a saint. He’s fighting with an ex-wife over custody of a teenage son, and he doesn’t have a problem jumping into bed with an attractive co-worker that takes a liking to him.

The relationships are improving with his son (Lasse Fogelstrom) and co-worker (Alexandra Rapaport). This has him feeling better about his life in the small town – until a student named Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) tells another teacher something that might indicate she’s been molested. It doesn’t help matters that this girl is the daughter of his best friend.

Early on in the movie (with a few contrived scenes), we’re all on board with who we believe in the story. It puts the overrated film Doubt (Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman) to shame.

There are so many things in this movie that are thought-provoking. Since it happens before Christmas, it has us thinking about what we’d do around the holidays if we were involved in this mess. It has us wondering if we would follow such a mob mentality. Most probably would. If we don’t know the person accused, it’s easy to believe an accusation by a child. If we did know the person, we’d either think he did it and he’d soon be a social pariah. If it was a close friend or family member, we might not believe the accusations…but we might keep our distance, just in case. We’d certainly keep our kids away from the guy, because it wouldn’t be worth even the slightest risk.

It’s refreshing that everything Lucas does while trying to defend himself, is a decision I would’ve made. That involved him going back to the school and demanding answers, advice he gave to his son, and attempts to talk to his buddies about it all.

It’s so rare in movies. There’s nothing worse than wondering why an innocent person in a movie said a certain thing to a cop, or why a woman in heels goes into a dark basement after she heard a scream. An hour ago I wrote my review for a horror movie. This film is scarier than any horror movie you’ll see this year.

It was filmed in Denmark. That means you’ll have subtitles. I’m not sure why so many people have a problem with that, but it’s a shame. They’ll be missing one of the best movies they can see this year.

Just watching a man quickly become an outcast in a town where everyone loved him, is riveting. The extraordinary way in which he deals with this is gut wrenching. In one scene, he gets into a fight in a grocery store. It reminded me of the scene in Cool Hand Luke where Paul Newman keeps getting up in the prison brawl he’s clearly losing to George Kennedy.

There’s another scene that involves a child showing up at Lucas’ door to walk his dog. How he handles that situation is truly inspiring. I went from anger, to a calm…before realizing – this is one incredible human being. Tears just started flowing (you’ll need tissues for a few scenes).

With Jerry Sandusky still in the news, the timing for this film couldn’t have been better.

I remember somebody years ago, having cops show up at his day care business. An employee he fired called the cops with a false child molestation allegation. I don’t know how, but the police immediately believed my friend. Yet as he told me the story on the phone, I’ll never forget him saying, “Parents were showing up to pick up their kids, and two cop cars are in our parking lot. Believe me, they were worried and asking a lot of questions.”

I don’t know how Annika Wedderkopp could give such an amazing performance at such a young age. One scene involves her being interrogated, and she has just a slight tick that makes it appear she’s nervous. Just brilliant. In fact, the entire cast was amazing.

The taut script was written by Thomas Vinterberg, who also directed.

Go see this movie. It’s films like this that make going to theatre a real treat.

It gets 4 ½ stars out of 5.

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