Cannes Report 2013 - The Hunt

By Moira Sullivan 
Denmark has certainly become a conservative country of late with required language tests for foreigners and an ultra nationalist party in the parliament. Worse yet is the provincialism in the smaller islands, and The Hunt (Jagten in Danish) directed by Thomas Vinterberg is one of those areas. 
Maads Mikelsson plays Lucas, a man who has lost his job and who takes a position as a preschool teacher. In Sweden, male employees are not allowed with children, but in this Danish childcare center, they are. 
In a complicated set of circumstances involving Lucas’ school  and hunting buddies he finds himself the hero of a young preschooler who makes up the story that he has touched her improperly. Almost no one wants to believe him, especially his old friends. His relationship with his son is strained as a result. He becomes involved with Nadja, a woman of Polish descent (Alexandra Rappaport), before he is fired and although she believes his innocence there is still doubt. 
The film shows the systematic ostracization of Lucas from the community and his zapped energy in dealing with the torment and persecution. This escalates to the point of Lucas being assaulted in a market. What is amazing about this character is his endurance and even when he finds support he must always watch over his shoulder. 
Maads Mikelsson won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Lucas. Thomas Vinterberg has succeeded in telling a convincing story with many facets without losing momentum. Dark secrets are common themes in his films and child abuse is one of his particular interests.  In Festen (The Celebration) from 1998  a son of a child molester confronts his father at a wedding. In The Hunt, the situation is reversed for although Lucas son must come to terms with the accusations against his father , Lucas must look inside himself for strength to stand up to his accusers.

© 2013 - Moira Sullivan- Air Date: 05/25/13
Movie Magazine International