Cinematic Releases: The Hunt

The first time I had heard about this film I knew two things: one, that it would be an excellent watch. And two, that I would hate watching it.

"Your beard. It is the most
beautiful beard I've ever seen..."
I was right.

The Hunt, known as Jagten in Denmark, is a subtitled drama that just hit Netflix. For those of you who have a phobia for great films that you have to read, don't say I didn't warn you. This film is no less heart-wrenching because you have to move your eyes to the bottom of the screen. The performance by the leading man has some serious gravitational pull even if you can't read.

Mads Mikkelsen, the ultra handsome Danish actor who portrayed one of the coolest recent Bond villains, returns to a more grounded role as a kindergarten teacher accused of child sexual abuse. I'm currently having an unusually difficult time reviewing this film, not because it affected me in such a powerful way, which it did, but because the story is so refreshingly simple and blunt that you can't say much about what happens throughout the plot without possibly tainting someone else's personal experience with it.

So, why did I hate it? Well, I didn't "hate it" in the way you might be thinking. Mikkelsen buries himself in the role of Lucas under such nauseating stress that you can't help but be yanked right into the scenes with him. You will absolutely be fuming in your seat with frustration. I found myself absentmindedly gritting my teeth and squeezing my own arm.

I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, however. Now this could just be lost in cultural translation, but I'm not sure I quite believe how genuine the course of action taken against Lucas by the surrounding community is. I'm not positive that it's a totally accurate method of dealing with such sensitive and dreadful crimes. Likewise, I'm not sure where believable character reactions ends and contrived scripting begins... or if this is actually a case of a slip in writing at all. Like I said, it could just be how the Scandinavian culture is versus how I imagine an America-based story would unfold. Feel free to dismiss this critique entirely.

"I just love hugs!"
Even without Mikkelsen's sharp performance and the emotionally draining story, The Hunt still manages 
to have a satisfying superficial gloss. It's framed with beautifully simple cinematography, coupled with an equally simple score that tucks itself away in favor of the drama at the forefront, and the masterful pacing will lull you deep within its warm, suffocating womb.

Watch The Hunt, but have a bottle of liquor on hand. You might need it to cope with the amount of fun you won't be having and the awe you'll experience realizing you'll never be as good at anything as Mikkelsen is at making you hate yourself.

- Review by JG Barnes