The Lie is spreading.
Thomas Vinterberg‘s THE HUNT (Jagten) (2012) is Denmark’s entry for the Academy Awards this year and rightfully so. Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas brings a harrowing and intense performance and quite possibly his best performance in his acting career. Even before we get to know his character–there is a sense that there is an underlying scrutiny from the people in this quiet town. From the films onset–Lucas is initiated into the community via the local polar bear club. Even though he plunges into the freezing river fully clothed, there is always something or someone to undermine the calm in this peaceful community. It is unfortunate that Lucas has to find himself on the bitter end of a lie.
Lucas becomes an unexpected target of an innocent lie. Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), one of his students tells her kindergarten administrator that Lucas exposed himself to her–unaware on how to dissociate the teasing with pornographic images provided by her brother, which in no way vilifies the unfortunate circumstances. Versus the genuine friendship Lucas impart upon her. When the fabricated story gets around about Lucas to the other parents–other children begin to “claim” this has also happened to them–which is also a lie. The events that occur are so delicately and carefully planned out that it becomes hard to blame anyone for their scrutiny.
What is unfortunate, everyone is an uncomfortable position to judge. When Lucas’ son Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm) comes to visit, he attempts to prove his father’s innocence to no avail. Every moment in the film leads up to an incredible performance by Mikkelsen. The film delves deep into the burden, and the agony and the isolation Lucas suffer. While the people around him acclimate to their usual daily routines–in the midst’s you see a frail man on the edge of his world, he is confused, he is fearful and yet remain hopeful that the truth of the matter surfaces. It would take a long time for these events to resolve and even longer to forget.
The successful writing and the camera of the director are what made this film as intensely poignant as it is. The reality, the emotional heavy and actions, are compounding every moment of screen time. The severity of the events weigh heavily on Mikkelsen performance, and it is not any wonder due to the extreme circumstances that there is not a period of rest afforded to his character, which is still evident even during the last moments of the film.
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