The lie is spreading.
Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a lonely nursery teacher in a Danish town. He, being divorced, is fighting for the custody of Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm), his teenage son. Lucas has a bunch of close male friends who are also his drinking buddies. One of his closest friends is Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) who has a little daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) who goes to the nursery where Lucas works. Lucas has amazing closeness with the kids at the nursery with whom he also plays a lot. He has all the essentials required to be a good staff member at the nursery. He starts seeing a woman named Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) a staff from the nursery. Lucas has a pet dog named Fanny whom Klara loves walking. Klara is very close to Lucas. He also, once in a while shoots deer in the forest. The catch becomes the food on his table.
Once some teen aged boys give Klara a glimpse of erected male genitals while they are having fun watching porn on their tablet. Klara is a little girl with very vivid imagination. In an instance of freaky, innocent imagination, she tells Grethe (senior staff member at the nursery) that she has seen Lucas’s genitals. Grethe tells Lucas what Klara has told her and this disturbs Lucas a lot as he is innocent and wonders why any child would say something like this about him. Grethe feels very alarmed and she slowly comes to a conclusion that Lucas has a pervert’s streak to his personality. She feels obligated to inform the other families, whose kids come to the nursery, about this incident. This raises a question on Lucas’ innocence.
Adults always assume that kids never lie. Grethe tells the parents that their children could have been subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of Lucas and tells Lucas to take a few days off. This innocent lie by Klara makes Lucas’ world crashing down. In this small town, this news spreads like a wildfire. Now Lucas’ friends and the entire neighborhood starts seeing Lucas as a weirdo and a deviant. They all think that he is a pervert who has been sexually abusing their kids. Theo too holds Lucas responsible for what Klara says, she experienced. Now nobody wants to believe Lucas’ side and they boycott him. He is not welcomed in any social gatherings and even in the church. Initially, Nadja doesn’t believe in this allegation but soon she too starts doubting Lucas. As a result, Lucas throws Nadja out of his house. The supermarket too doesn’t want to sell anything to Lucas. In one incident Lucas adamantly tries to buy groceries at the supermarket but gets badly beaten up by the store staff.
It’s Lucas’ word against Klara’s. It’s a battle between a child’s lie and an adult’s truth. Unfortunately, the universal culture pushes us to believe that every little child is innocent and never lies. Marcus comes to visit Lucas and hears about the horrifying story. He feels shattered but doesn’t lose faith in his father. Lucas gets caught by the Police and is interrogated. Kids say that incidents of sexual abuse happened in Lucas’ house basement. But in reality, Lucas’ home doesn’t even have a basement. This gives a ray of hope to Marcus and Bruun (Lucas’ friend). Only Brunn, Lucas’ only friend who believes that Lucas is innocent, consoles Marcus. Lucas, the outcast, faces the ire of the neighborhood which comes out through stone pelting on Lucas’ house and killing Fanny. When Theo sees Lucas beaten up by the supermarket employees, he gets torn between his true friendship and his role as Klara’s father. He is confused and doesn’t know which side he genuinely believes in. Klara one day finally tells Theo that Lucas never did anything to her. This absolves Lucas from his crime that was never committed and he gets his friends back. Nobody hates Lucas anymore.
The director of the film, Thomas Vinterberg, really knows his craft of film-making. He delivers a tightly paced drama with a huge social conscience. The movie is very honest and tense. The Hunt fuels right amount of tension which makes us, viewers, very restless and sorry for Lucas. The audience will feel equally helpless as Lucas while watching the movie. The movie did get me on the edge of my seat in a strange way (not like how you feel while watching a thriller or a mystery film). It grips us with suspense and uneasiness about the future of Lucas, hanging in the balance. When Lucas gets absolved of his false sins; as a viewer, you breathe a comforting sigh of relief.
Just like how Theo says – life is full of wickedness; life does have a way of inventing grave trouble. It can at times make you crippled, spiraling your very existence completely out of control. Just like how it happens with Lucas. We always believe that ‘TRUTH’ always triumphs. Really? Always?? Lucas was lucky enough to have his innocence proved. Not everyone gets that liberty.
I think that the title – The Hunt – symbolizes Lucas as the hunted one just like the deer he hunts. It draws an analogy between the powerless Lucas and the powerless animals he hunts. The movie makes you think about various uncertainties of life which yell out loud – ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
The Hunt was premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2012. The movie also competed at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
The World of Movies Rating 7.5/10
Movie Title: The Hunt
Original Title: Jagten
Directed By: Thomas Vinterberg
Written By: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Main Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp
Year of Release: 2012
Country of Origin: Denmark
Languages: Danish/ English/ Polish
Running Time: 115 minutes
Production Company: Zentropa
Distributed By: Nordisk Film
Image Source: Screenshots taken from the movie and edited in Canva.
Reviewed by: Pallavi Patil