Mumbai Film Festival Diaries: The Hunt
A compulsive drama, The Hunt (Jagten) is a Danish film directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Set in a small town in Denmark, the film follows the story of a wrongly accused man who becomes the target for the residents of the town. An innocent misleading lie that ruins a reputation to an extent where it cannot be recouped, a lie that spreads like a fire in the forest, the serious repercussions faced by a falsely accused; such is the story of The Hunt.
The film traces the events taking place in Lucas’ (Mads Mikkelsen) life leading up to Christmas, as he finds himself in the centre of a mass hysteria that grips the town. Before he comes under the watchful eyes of the citizens of the town, Lucas is a lonely yet beloved kindergarten teacher, struggling to get the custody of his son and a part of a tightly knitted masculine group where he interacts with his deer-hunting buddies amidst alcohol. Trying to get back on his feet after what seems a messed up separation from his wife, he gets into a relationship with a co-worker Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport). What seems like a promising beginning to a new life, is shattered overnight after his best buddy Theo’s (Thomas Bo Larsen) young daughter Klara blurts out in front of the kindergarten supervisor Grethe (Sussse Wold) that Lucas exposed himself to her. While the audience is aware that the young’s girl imagination was sparked from a pornographic image seen on her brother’s iPad, the supervisor is disturbed after Klara’s revelations.
Soon enough, the word is spread across the tiny town instigation the downfall for Lucas. Following Klara’s statement, parents start reporting symptoms of child abuse noticed on their kids. Lucas loses his closest friends, puts an abrupt end to his relationship with Nadja, is rejected by the entire society and is even physically assaulted in public places. While everyone turns against him, Brunn (Lars Ranthe) is the only one who stands by his friend. The story gives you some hope when Lucas is not found guilty but it’s eludes as the society remains adamant. To add to the sorrow, Lucas’ son Marcus (Lasse fogelstorm) is disregarded and subjected to the same harsh treatment.
Mikkelsen’s performance is utterly convincing as he showcases Lucas’ loneliness and anger that surges up when his friends refuse to hear him out and he turns into the innocent deer, which the society has been hunting for. A tense drama that catches your attention from the first shot, The Hunt is a gripping tale. Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography is commendable with shots that build up the suspense of the story.
While a year after the incident, when everything seems to get back to its normal pace in Lucas’ life, the end of it all makes you realise that the hunt would never be truly over.
- Esha Chanda