A film on a teacher wrongly accused of child sex abuse is tough but rewarding viewing
After the sensational impression he made with his 1998 film Festen, a hallmark of the Dogme 95 movement, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg arguably did not deliver on his promise and has often seemed to be missing in action. But The Hunt is an outstanding comeback.
In it Mads Mikkelsen plays the 40-year-old Lucas, who's recently divorced. He lives in a small country town, working temporarily as a kindergarten teacher. At first Lucas appears to be on good terms with his children and colleagues, he's loved by his new girlfriend and has many friends.
But things suddenly start to go wrong when he is falsely accused by a child of sexual abuse and, as the allegations start, so the local community enters into an unstoppable swirl of violent backlashes against Lucas who it seems isn't even aware which of the children has accused him.
He finds himself in a situation way beyond his control - how can he prove his innocence against the word of a child?
This is an acute and engrossing psychological study of the violent mechanisms that move a bourgeois, middle-class society. Hypocritical and bigoted, the community is the real monster of the film.
Mad Mikkelsen deservedly won Best Actor at the Cannes film festival this year for his terrific interpretation as a man alone, fighting to prove his innocence. Harsh viewing The Hunt may be but it is highly rewarding - it will haunt you for days. A must-see.