The Hunt is one of the best films about persecution I’ve ever seen. Mads Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a lonely teacher at a kindergarten that cares for his dog and longs to live with his son, who’s off with his mother. Lucas cares deeply for his best friend’s daughter, Klara, but after an incident where she believes she loves him and kisses him on the lips quickly while he plays a game with the children, things unravel horribly. Lucas gives her back a heart that she gave him, and this leads to an innocent lie that causes destruction in their society: she says that he gave her the heart and that she saw his genitals, because she heard her brother and his friend talking about sex while they were looking at pornographic images. This leads to Lucas’s termination, culminating in a torrential downpour of oppression and hatred his way. It’s a modern-day witch hunt, with Mikkelsen masterfully capturing the horrific nature of a misunderstood moment. And while the film’s terrific for most of its duration, the final half hour is beyond emotionally gripping and simply brilliant; the film’s final scene is marked by poetic injustice, with Vinterberg emphasizing the essence of the tale. This is an intelligent and truly engrossing feature, one of 2013’s gems.
Grade: ★★★★½ (out of 5)