Wednesday, July 31, 2013

29 July 13 - The Hunt (Jagten)

When does a lie perceived to be the truth remain a lie before the truth is finally accepted?

That's the eternal question you must decide for yourself when seeing the Danish film - The Hunt. And in the end, it definitely be an in depth conversational piece . 

The movie is about a kindergarten teacher named Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) after a messy divorce is getting his life back together though having problems with his ex while entering a new relationship with Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport). Life seems to be on a gradually upbeat swing for Lucas until one day while playing with his students young Klara (wonderfully portrayed by Annika Wedderkopp) kisses him on the mouth while slipping a note into his pocket. Even though immediately having a chat with the little girl about kissing another adult (other than her mother and father) and the note (to which she flatly denies doing), he's accused of molesting her when she tells the principal Grethe (Susse Wold) the most damaging of all accusations - that Lucas exposed himself (i.e. showed his penis) to her. Now granted the principal had her doubts about the matter yet she pursues the matter by bringing in a child psychologist/DCFS-type worker to question Klara which not only has the lie spiraling out of control, blogspot readers, but it has other parents claiming their children were molested by Lucas after holding a meeting with them. This truly doesn't bode well for him since Klara is the daughter of his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) and his wife Agnes (Anne Louise Hessing). Yet during the course of this, Klara does admit she said something stupid ...that he (Lucas) didn't do anything. However, since the lie is seen as the truth, the adults think she's lying to feel sorry for her accuser. 

Besides showing how a child's little lie after being taken as a truth by everyone directly and indirectly involved, it also show how an accusation could instantly effect the alleged abuser and his family thus changing their lives throughout the course of the film. Not only does he lose his job at the kindergarten school and his girlfriend, Lucas loses the trust and friendship from most of his friends except Brunn (Lars Ranthe), his son's (Marcus portrayed by Lasse Fogelstrom) godfather. No one wants to believe and/or help prove his innocence. And even after the court finds no evidence of abuse, he's still viewed as an child molester where he lives to the point everyone in town continues to ostracize him which also includes banning him from shopping at the local grocery store (as so ordered by the store manager) all because they believe he did what Klara accused him of doing. Mads Mikkelsen in the role of Lucas shows the moveigoer (especially during the heart-stopping conclusion of The Hunt) that he always will forever be the victim of little girl's innocence lie never caring that he was justly vindicated by the truth and court. This actor wonderfully demonstrated a wide range of emotions from disbelief and anger (when being accused of the alleged crime) to frustration and hopelessness (after being acquitted of all wrong) and more while remaining relatively calm for the sake of his son ...especially when someone viciously murders the family dog.

There's three sides to the truth, blogspot readers - Klara's, Lucas' and what the director reveals during the course of the movie. This reviewer liked the fact that director Thomas Vinterberg didn't waste most of the run time fluffing up the movie with unnecessary details (like showing the investigation with the other children or Lucas' police questioning and court appearance) which would painfully drag the movie down and drift away from its focus on the main character - Lucas. Without those scenes in place you really don't feel lost or that you're missing something from the plot because the director allows the somewhat fast paced timeline summarize what happened in between through his characters. For example, we don't realize Lucas has lost his job until the scene titled December but you do get that general feeling since he practically lives in a dark house and there's dirty dishes and clothes strewn everywhere when his son unexpectedly arrives at his door. Usually reserved for a thriller/horror film not a drama, Thomas wonderfully uses the element of surprise in this movie to heighten the intense moviegoing experience with a few jarring, heart-stopping and panic moments that might have you clawing at your theater armrest, blogspot readers. On the flipside, there are some funny moments - be on the lookout for Fanny the dog to bark whenever someone mentions the name Kirsten. It's hilarious. And (without trying to give too much away) through the use of the minor characters towards the end, he also gave you the sense that some were able (a) to forgive and forget, (b) forgive but not forget or (c) still hold a grudge ...from afar.

If you want to see a thought-provoking drama and don't mind reading subtitles (though there are moments when it's in English), SouthSide highly recommends checking The Hunt (which has a limited theater viewing run).

Until next time, support your local scene,

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