The Hunt

The Hunt

  • Anchored by great performances and muted direction, The Hunt is a terrific movie that deserves the accolades it has received since 2012’s Cannes Festival.
  • Mads Mikklesen plays Lucas with skilled understatement. He makes us feel his character’s expanding joy throughout The Hunt’s introduction, his panic as life spins out of control, and finally his fear. Mikklesen deservedly won Cannes’ Best Actor award, just as he would deserve any other award recognition. 2013 has featured some tremendous performances, and Mikklesen’s counts as one of them.
  • He is not the only gifted actor here. Lasse Fogelstrom (Marcus) is outstanding in limited screen time, bursting with teenage angst and unrepressed emotion. Anna Wedderkopp (Klara) is strong, as are her fictional father, Thomas Bo Larsen (Theo) and kindergarten teacher, Susse Wold (Grethe). Which says nothing about the myriad actors I haven’t named; they are terrific, too.
  • Writer/Director Thomas Vinterberg equals, maybe exceeds, his cast. Using a subtle, sometimes non-existent score, unobtrusive lighting and cleverly mundane camera angles, Vinterberg makes the film’s production as understated as Mikklesen’s performance.
  • Which is also true of The Hunt’s sets and locations. None of them are grandiose or particularly impressive. They are all ordinary.
  • As is the cinematography. While The Hunt features some sweeping  landscapes, Vinterberg and his Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen never draw undue attention to nature’s beauty. Neither do they hide from it, of course, but they show constant restraint in making their picture too pretty.
  • The script follows the same tendency, by making its characters average people who do average things. By setting the story in a small town and by paying careful attention to many characters and just as many plot-important details.
  • All of which leads me to this conclusion: The Hunt is a carefully calibrated piece of filmmaking wherein all of the elements (performance, camerawork, lighting, writing, etc) combine to immerse the viewer in a firm sense of reality. It doesn’t make us feel we’re watching a movie; it makes us feel we’re watching real people react, often badly, to a real mistake.
  • Which is why this film is so riveting, so gripping, so emotionally draining. Indeed, so powerful. (The prosaic scene in which Lucas and Theo share a drink is one of the most suspenseful scenes of 2013, despite a total lack of action or manipulative filmmaking tricks.)
  • Yet, The Hunt has a few minor flaws. The ending is a tad rushed, leaving Lucas’ place in his community a bit under-explored; Marcus’ arrival at Lucas’ home and his mother’s response to his relocation are insufficiently explained; and Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) disappears for too much of the movie, meaning we never know precisely how she reacts to Lucas’ predicament and therefore do not understand her role in the conclusion.
  • But the flaws are minor, and The Hunt’s strengths are immersive. This is a fantastic movie.
  • Final Grade: A-

19 thoughts on “The Hunt

  1. Good review. This one really hit me hard and it made me feel as if maybe, just maybe, this could happen to anybody that gets something so terrible spread around about them.

    • Agreed. That’s what it makes it so remarkable; it feels so real.

      And it hits me in a tender spot, too. I’m a teacher, and anyone in my profession knows this sort of accusation can be enough to end your career, no matter guilt or innocence.

  2. Agreed James! This film was just superb and is still my favourite of the year, so far. I’ve yet to catch up on quite a few movies but I reckon this is a certainly to make my top five, possibly top three of the year. Who knows, it has every chance of remaining the best in my eyes.

  3. Good review of a great film, which is in my top 20. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about how it really feels like you’re watching real people; the performances and direction here is excellent because it’s so unobtrusive.

    • Completely agreed.

      Which is why I think this one of the best made movies of the year. It isn’t the most beautiful, but that’s deliberate. It’s cinematography, and every other element, complements the tone of the movie so perfectly. Quite an impressive piece of filmmaking, this. So who cares all that much about the few narrative flaws?

    • He’s pretty much just fantastic. 😉

      I haven’t seen Hannibal, but I assume he’s great there, too. Not many actors, in my opinion, can play Hannibal Lecter well, not after Anthony Hopkins’ turn, but Mikklesen is one of the few who probably can.

  4. Great review for a great film. I am so glad I checked this film out, it was excellent and had a phenomenal cast that pulled it together well, though I must praise Mads Mikkelsen especially for what he did with his character!

    • I spend so much time watching movies and reading books that I see next to no television. I made time for Breaking Bad, and I still faithfully see Justified, when new episodes air. But other than that . . . there isn’t much I watch.

      So. Would I like Hannibal? Probably. But I haven’t seen a single second to know for certain. 🙂

      Which means I’ll turn the question back on you. Do you like Hannibal? Should I make a point of seeing some of it?

      • See I am the opposite, I don’t make enough time to go to the movies and I watch a lot of TV. That’s why I like your blog!

        YES I think you would like it. I’d have to ask do you like the Hannibal story/book or movies? If so, then you will like this. I don’t think it is the best show out there, but I think Mads does a really good job on the show and so does Hugh Dancy as Will. I have a feeling Mad could even get nominated for his performance. For that reason, it is worth renting and you could watch it when you are bored one weekend.

      • Alright. Thanks for the recommendation. I do like the first couple Hannibal Lecter movies/books. And I think Mads Mikklesen might be one of the few living actors capable of playing the character as well as or better than Anthony Hopkins, so my interest has always been piqued by that show.

        With your recommendation in mind, I’ll check it out at some point. 🙂

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