Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Film Review: The Hunt (2012)

The Hunt (Review)
Denmark/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"The gripping and intense atmosphere never lets you go..."

Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), who works at a kindergarten in a close-knit community, becomes the victim of mass hysteria when he's accused of sexual assaulting a student.

The Hunt becomes more and more difficult to watch as the story unfolds. We witness one small lie take an enormous toll on the life of one innocent man. Lucas tries to continue living normally, but, as the lie snowballs out of control, he realizes he can't -- the people he was so close have become distant and hostile. Lucas' life quite literally crumbles before your eyes -- any hopes he had to repair his life, his family, his career, are gone. The unbelievably tense story leads to an abrupt yet fulfilling and honest ending -- it may frustrate some audiences, but I see it as a clean and appropriate ending that I refuse to spoil.

The Hunt is an incredibly effective and impacting film. The story is as realistic as it is important -- it doesn't pick sides or lay blame. At the same time, the story is infuriating and saddening. Some of the characters, like the head of the school and the parents, react so ignorantly, illogically, and occasionally stupidly, and only fuel the fire... but, can you really blame them? Would you react differently if these disturbing allegations were brought up concerning your child or a relative? Sure, the school teacher shouldn't have played psychologist, and neither should have the parents, but it really isn't out of reach. I'd bet this situation has happened numerous times before, and it's disturbing... but understandable.

Ultimately, The Hunt works very well as a drama. The gripping and intense atmosphere never lets you go -- it keeps you ground, with your shoulders locked up and fists clenched. Every scene is important to the plot -- from the buildup to the ending -- so there is no filler, which is an accomplishment on its own. The pacing is also ferocious, at least for a drama, almost feeling like a purebred thriller. If you're interested in the film, and you let the dark, suspenseful atmosphere immerse you, the film will feel like it's moving on fifth gear. It's themes are disturbing, but they're handled with class and realism -- it steers clear from absurdity.

Mads Mikkelsen easily steals the show with a powerful performance. Mikkelsen delivers superb emotion with realistic subtly -- you can see it all in his eyes alone. The rest of the cast is equally impressive with strong, realistic performances. The film is shit beautifully, despite the disturbing themes. The music in the film is subtle, seamlessly blending with the film -- it works very well with the rest of the film. Director Thomas Vinterberg does an incredible job telling a balanced, consistent story without filler -- the direction is truly focused. Writers Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg pen a daring story/screenplay, again, with great consistency and balance.

Overall, The Hunt is a remarkable masterpiece. It is an almost unbearably tense drama captured with amazing subtlety and balance. When I say unbearable, I mean it in a good way, cause this film really is the definition nerve-wracking. It is infuriating and even frustrating, but that only makes it much more effective in the long run. Don't miss this film.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, sexual themes, and brief full male nudity. (these moments consists of a brief skinny dipping scene, and some brief pornographic images during one other scene.)

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