The Hunt or Jagten was Denmark’s official submission for Oscar 2014 and a nomination for Best Foreign Film of The Year. So, prompted by Mads Mikkelsen and a friend’s recommendation, I went to watch this movie on Europe on Screen. As usual, I decided to fly blind and doesn’t read the synopsis, so I was hoping for some light entertainment. Needless to say, I got more than I bargained for.
Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a lonely kindergarten teacher in a little village. He’s struggling to cope with the loneliness after his divorce, of being away from his only son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm) who lived with his mother and seldom got the chance to visit him. Things starting to look up when he begin a relationship with Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) and Marcus informed him that he will be moving in soon.
But then Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), a student in the kindergarten and also the daughter of Lucas’s best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), tell a not-so-innocent and not-so-little lie about how Lucas showed her his genitals. Everything snowballed from there, and Lucas’s life crumbled to pieces.
There was nothing light about this movie, and it certainly is not a movie that you should watch if you want something to brighten your mood. Because I hate this movie. Wait, let me rephrase that. The Hunt was so good that halfway through the movie, I almost can’t continue watching because it was so suffocating and it makes me restless. By the end of the movie, I was reduced into a teary-eyed emotional wreck. The Hunt got me questioning the claim of a child’s innocent, of the belief that “children never lie”, and as always, it got me hating people with fervor. Because people are assholes, and only when you’re at your worst you know who your real friends are.
Tobias Lindholm, along with Thomas Vinterberg who was also the director of this movie, wrote the heart-wrenching story together, and they did a very fine job at that. The story flows in a calm pace, and yet it captured you the way a serene stream does. And the story blend beautifully with how Vinterberg manages to showcase the drastic change of atmosphere beautifully, the way people suddenly turn their back and treat Lucas with malice whereas just before they were being nice to him. It’s the little change in attitude, and the simple words that means so much on showing just how Lucas’s world got turned upside down. How he’s suddenly all alone and how that eats him up from the inside.
It would not be an overstatement, though, to say that Mads Mikkelsen was the main reason as to why this movie really got me by the heart. And no, it’s not just because it was him, but also because his portrayal of Lucas was just believable. It’s a quite feat, considering the first time I saw him was on Hannibal and left a very deep impression as the charming cannibal killer. So to see him slip into the skin of a normal, lonely, isolated man that is Lucas was an interesting experience, and he was more than convincing as Lucas. His eyes, especially, with those haunted, broken looks that just makes you want to mourn for his loss. For the loss of his old life that people has so savagely snatch from him based solely on their shallow judgment. And Lasse Fogelstrøm’s Marcus portray the unadulterated anger of an adolescent who would stand against the world for his father with ease, while Thomas Bo Larsen’s Theo is the right mix of protective, angry, and guilty. But the scene stealer is none other than Annika Wedderkopp, with her innocence and ignorance that makes you want to swoop her in your arms and throws a stone at her at the same time. There’s this scene of her dancing under the snow that just looks so angelic and beautiful, yet at the same time you’re hating her and that smile on her face because she ruined another person’s life and get away with it.
As I watch this movie though, I can’t help but to recall Atonement, the movie where a child’s limited understanding and false accusation also brought hell upon the life on an innocent man. At the same time, it also got me recalling moments from a certain Doctor Who’s episode called Midnight, where the Doctor nearly lost his life because people are being hateful selfish stupid pricks. It gives off the same vibe, the “fuck you why you make feel angsty like this I will never watch you again” and still you can’t get it out of your head and it will depressed you for days. The Hunt also have that kind of melancholy, the one that pierce you to the core and stays there. It’s a well made movie, and one that I don’t think i’ll be able to move on from it soon. Which also means that I won’t watch it again anytime soon, or at the very least, not voluntarily.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Writer: Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg. Released on: January 10th 2013. Casts: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Lasse Fogelstrøm, Alexandra Rapaport, Annika Wedderkopp.