The Hunt / Jagten (2012) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg
The movie is packed with emotions: outrage, shock, doubt, disbelief, pity. Since the opening scenes, filled with peaceful music and friendly images, it grabs us by the throat and never lets us go.
Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) and Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) are two best friends living in an idyllic small community, where mutual trust is a given. Theo has a wife, two kids, good life, whereas Lucas struggles to see his teenage son more often. Theo fights with his wife, sometimes neglecting his daughter Klara. Lucas can’t take care of his own son so he takes care of kids from the preschool where he works. What binds them is strong friendship, having each others back no matter what. Until one day Klara confabulates about Lucas’ sexual behavior toward her. This single moment of child’s fantasies inadvertently changes not only Lucas’ life, but the lives of many people in the entire community.
The slander disrupts the dynamic of the peaceful, small-town community. The truth about their members emerges: all filth and distrust come to the surface. Those he used to be friends with become violent toward him. Those he shared his hunting trips and drinking nights with become disgusted with him. However, Lucas and Theo’s friendship is stronger than we think, after all. The church scene says it all. Lucas enters the local church during Christmas celebration despite all the people from this small community are already there, or perhaps because of that. When his and Theo’s eyes meet, we see Theo knows that Lucas is innocent. They act it out masterfully. The look in their eyes is all we need. No words. Interestingly, a father can see through his anger and rage, unlike a mother. Klara’s mom has already judged Lucas guilty.
This movie is not about revenge or justice. It evokes a whole range of emotions and manipulates them. Do we believe Lucas is innocent through the story, or is there a shadow of a doubt at some point? Do we take sides? Can we say who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy? Or do we falter? Are family bonds stronger than a long-lasting friendship? Are men more sympathetic than women? How can we like this little girl Klara if her one lie had consequences on the lives of so many people? Is she a victim or perpetrator? The movie doesn’t provide us with answers. It never judges or preaches what’s right and wrong. It slowly and patiently unfolds Lucas’ story. But nothing is black and white there. The powerful last scene proves a pedophile label will always stick with Lucas. A thing like that can never be undone.
Long days, pleasant nights,