The Hunt

Following recent and milder works, Thomas Vinterberg returns to the source, with a film in the vein of his critical success, the tormented Festen. Through the portraits of a family shattered by incest and a disoriented community dealing with a child abuse case, the director uses this film to vehicle his fears.

Wrongly accused by the daughter of his best friend of having sexually abused young children, a man finds himself ostracized, the movie describing the vicious circle in which he gets caught. From suspicion to a fierce certainty that leads to retaliatory violence, the community strongly condemns him. His girlfriend turns away from him, retail stores refuse to serve him and his son gets harassed. The film makes us follow his ordeal, shown with complaisance by Mr. Vinterberg.

To prove his innocence to the townspeople, he will have to endure continuous humiliation. Molested, repeatedly thrown out, wounded, he becomes, through Mr. Vinterberg’s lens, a martyr – a situation that is absurd, pathetic, unbearable and the center of this film. Mads Mikkelsen is a perfect match for this role, showcasing a strong dose of selfless masochism reminiscent of previous roles such as Valhalla Rising. His performance isn’t unfortunately enough to compensate for the disgusting behaviors of the film’s protagonists.

The problem comes mostly from a predictable script. Lacking nuances, especially when it comes to the hero’s innocence, the film follows a straight line until an ultimate hunting scene. Even after his innocence is proved, he will remain somewhat suspect in the eyes of the townspeople. He will never feel safe again and will be treated as a pedophile forever. This half-baked conclusion is the only thing that Mr. Vinterberg has to offer us, having forgotten the ingenuity of a work like Festen. His direction is flat and his story is painful to watch, from the beginning to the end. One can remember what Fritz Lang had been able to do with a similar situation in Fury. Mr. Vinterberg’s nauseous movie is never able to go beyond the complacent voyeurism exhibited in the opening sequence.  If children never lie, this might prove that Mr. Vinterberg’s talent might have arguably been based on deception.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg – Actors: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen – Running time: 1:51 – Year: 2012 – Country: Denmark

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Sandrine Marques

Sandrine Marques

Sandrine is a French freelance journalist who lives in Paris and writes passionnally about cinema.
Sandrine Marques

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