In most mainstream movies, the line between hero and villain is clearly drawn. But what about the real world? In everyday life, the divide is blurrier. Aside from the occasional Al Queda crazy or gun totting Batman fan, there aren’t many mustache twirlers walking around. Despite the best efforts of Hollywood to keep things tidy for the summer blockbuster crowd, occasionally a foreign effort shines through. Cut to The Hunt, the latest film from Dogma 95 graduate Thomas Vinterberg. With a chilling story and a heart wrenching main character, The Hunt is not only the most emotionally striking film I’ve seen all year, it’s a lock for one of my Top 10 films of 2013.
The Hunt stars Mads Mikkelsen (the villain from Casino Royale) as Lucas, a local kindergarden aid trying to piece together his forty-something life. He’s close to getting custody of his son, has himself a squeeze and the school kids love him. Perhaps too much. The trouble starts when a young student makes a shocking accusation about Lucas and his life in the close knit Danish community spirals to the depths.
Nope. This is not a fun traipse through small town Denmark. The subject matter is brutal, heart stopping and dramatic. The experience is further enhanced by an Oscar worthy performance from Mr. Mikkelsen. The beauty of his work isn’t in what he does on screen. It’s in the spaces in between. Mikkelsen is in full command of his craft, creating a sympathetic character caught in a swirl of hearsay and public scorn. His face is amazingly expressive, conveying pain, tension and anger in equal measure. The rest of the cast is perfect, including a wondrous performance by Annika Wedderkopp as the young accuser.
Venderberg uses his minimalistic style to great effect, providing a still and realistic backdrop for the drama to unfold. The great success of the movie is how there are no true villains. Everyone reacts to the accusation with honesty and best intentions, making the eventual decent all the more intense. Luckily, the experience isn’t all depression. Venderberg allows the characters to breathe with some slight humor and a great sense of familial connection.
And when all is said and done, that’s the final hurrah for one of the year’s best. Great art is always seeped in brutal honesty and when truth is artfully presented, the result can be movie magic. Much like A Separation from a few years back, The Hunt presents a heart-breaking scenario in a genuine and emotionally penetrating way. When I first starting penning reviews for Pantheon, I promised to feature films wanted to see, flicks readily available for the movie going public. Thanks to a deluge of boring sequels and lackluster Hollywood offerings, I’m taking a different tact. Let’s talk about movies you should be seeing. The Hunt is one of those gems, a touching, stunning and oft disturbing portrait of a common man in uncommon circumstances. An absolute must see for fans of intense drama.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Jersey born, New York based and Austin bound, Bill Tucker is a writer of short fiction, film reviews and articles across a variety of media. He currently writes bi-monthly reviews for Pantheon Magazine and his micro fiction story, K, was recently accepted for publication in Solarcide’s flash fiction compilation, Flash Me. When not writing, he works as an IT Trainer for a fashion software company. Check out more of his work atwww.thesurrealityproject.com.