Uncomfortable, heart wrenching, and a fantastic piece of cinema. The 2012 film The Hunt (titled Jagan in its native Denmark) is a stunningly real drama that focuses on what happens to, not only the man, but the entire community, when he is falsely accused of child molestation. While that brief outline may turn more than a few from even considering viewing it, I urge you to seek it out and give it a chance.
Starring Mads Mikkelsen (more notably known in the West for his roles as Hannibal in the television series Hannibal (2013 – 2015), Kaecilius in Marvel’s Doctor Strange (2016) and Galen Erso in Rogue One (2016)), the film follows Kindergarten teacher Lucas, a man in the midst of a custody battel for his son, and attempting to rebuild his lonely life. As he finds himself at the centre of a misunderstanding, when a young student of his, attempts to explain an incident at home, involving her much older brother showing her images that she is certainly not old enough to witness or understand, and, through her jumbled sentences and an inability to understand what is wrong, unwittingly incriminates Lucas, for a crime he didn’t commit. Ostracised by the town, pushed out of his job and subjected to beatings, both physically and verbally, by the people who once called him friend, Lucas must find out what started it all, prove his innocence, and win back the towns trust.
While the subject matter is uncomfortable to comprehend, and the scenes of misguided aggression can bring you to tears at times, the film takes you with it throughout. Making you scream alongside Lucas, begging and pleading for the others to discover his innocence, The Hunt serves as a masterclass in emotion. The film portrays the paranoia of the townspeople perfectly, while we know Lucas is innocent, it’s easy to see and understand their reactions, and while it would be easy to count them as the films villains, they are three dimensional and relatable. Questioning us in regards to what we would do in their shoes. Mads Mikkelsen brings a full range of emotions to his performance, his confusion, desperation, isolation and fear are all brought to the forefront and explored deeply. The character of Lucas is relatable, we feel his pain and suffering, we find ourselves on our knees at times. Begging for the others to see his innocence, for the truth to be uncovered, for them to ask the young girl what really happened, and by the films end, we are left exhausted and at the end of our emotional rope.
While the premise and the fact that the film is in Danish, is sure to put many people off. The film is well worth your time and an incredible exploration of conveying heavy emotions on screen. At a time when accusation towards child molestation are every day occurrences, and far more are being proven to be well founded than we wished, The Hunt portrays the effects a false claim can have on someone. The stigma it causes, and how some accusations, regardless of their overall truth, can never be shaken off, or forgotten.
The Hunt is available on Blu-ray and DVD on Amazon.