THE HUNT

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4.5 stars
There’s something undeniably dark about the state of Denmark. Consider the popularity of torch-n-burn TV series like The Killing or The Bridge, and gruelling directors like Susanne Bier (In A Better World), Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself) and the Danish enfant terrible, Lars Von Trier whose cannon includes cheery numbers like Melancholia, Antichrist and The Idiots. Still smiling? Thomas Vinterberg joins those alumni with his harsh, haunting and harrowing examination of sexual predators and group hysteria.

Lucas (the astonishingly good Mads Mikkelsen) is a small town kindergarten teacher loved by all, especially the daughter of his best friend, six year old Klara who develops a crush on the likeable man. When he dutifully rebuffs her inappropriate affection, Klara petulantly but unintentionally sets in motion a train of events that career out of control so quickly and so violently, in no time it has claimed Lucas’s reputation, his livelihood and very nearly his life.

Working from a script co-written by Tobias Lindholm (whose credits include the lauded political thriller Borgen), Vinterberg has crafted an absolute stunner that is as provocative as it is horrifically entertaining (in that dark, Danish way). As the townsfolk turn on Lucas, Vinterberg eschews cheap sensationalism in developing his theme about frenzied paranoia. After all, children never lie, and certainly not about something as serious as sexual abuse. The absurd way in which the scenario plays out, the willingness of its participants and the pack-violence which follows is as real and tangible as it is heart-breaking.

Mikkelsen is an amazing presence but he’s not alone, all the performances speak loud and clear, particularly that of Klara and a teenage boy standing tall for his father. While unequivocally gruelling, The Hunt is not only a tour de force, it’s a significant film which must strike a resonant chord with anyone who spends any time among children. Without diminishing just alarm about paedophilia, the film raises a clear voice of reason in an often unreasonable discussion; particularly when you consider the roads Lucas is forced to travel that he might regain his reputation, livelihood and life. Unmissable.

// COLIN FRASER

Previewed at Sony Theatrette, Sydney on Monday 15th April, 2013
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STUFF

CAST
Mads Mikkelsen
Thomas Bo Larsen
Annika Wederkopp
Lasse Fogelstrom

DIRECTOR
Thomas Vinterberg

SCREENWRITER
Thomas Vinterberg

COUNTRY
Denmark (subtitles)

CLASSIFICATION
MA15+

RUNTIME
115 minutes

AUSTRALIAN
RELEASE DATE
May 2, 2013
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The Hunt (2012) on IMDb
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Stacks Image 56