Mads Mikkelsen is an extraordinary actor. Whether he’s playing Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale or becoming the central figure of hate in this harrowing tale of small town friends turning on a victim, you just can’t take your eyes off him.
Mads won Best Actor at Cannes this year for this role. Director Thomas Vinterberg (Festen) might have wanted to avoid another drama about child abuse. And – however timely this treatment of the subject is – it’s never going to be good fun that uplifts you, is it?
Yet there is so much that is universal and touching in “The Hunt”. When we meet Lucas (Mads), he’s coming out of a bad time after divorce and losing his job. He’s a teacher, but he has found new work in a nursery and he’s building closer links with his son and finding romance again.
Then, a lie from a friend’s daughter, based on a fleeting glance of internet pornography downloaded by her big brother, sets the whole community against Lucas.
The whole movie is beautiful, in that lovely Danish Dogme way. Early scenes show male friends playing drinking games, in hunting season.
The women build up the gossip level, believing the child. The men lash out. Okay, if I have any criticism, this isn’t exactly a feminist joy.
Everyone in it is wonderful. But’s it’s Mikkelsen who dominates every scene and Vinterberg’s direction that pushes the action forward.
It wil haunt me for some time to come, in a good way. It’s about much more than child abuse and has universal relevance in the way in which it looks at the rituals of hunting as a metaphor for the ways in which groups operate. Truly, Denmark is producing fantastic films and television. Do see this, if you can. But be prepared to have a very stiff drink, afterwards.
I saw it at the Notting Hill Gate Picturehouse, on the day it was announced that Cineworld has taken over Picturehouses and that Picturehouses will continue to operate in the same way as it currently does.