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The Hunt (Jagten)

* * * * -

Intense, compelling drama with utterly absorbing performances.

Image of The Hunt (Jagten)

Thomas Vinterberg/Denmark/2012/110 mins

Available on Blu-ray Mon 7 Aug 2017

Originally released in 2012 The Hunt comes from Danish director Thomas Vinterberg and won Mads Mikkelsen a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Set in a small Danish community, the story tracks how an unfounded accusation can quickly grow into something with life-changing consequences. Lukas’ reputation as a popular primary school teacher is eviscerated after a child’s lie gathers a momentum of its own. The speed of the deterioration is shocking and questions how a well-educated society can return to a pitchfork mentality without, it appears, any justification.

In the face of mounting “evidence” and threats to his physical and emotional well-being, Lukas is propelled to near breaking point. Mikkelsen’s striking and powerful performance is unflinching as those who choose to accuse him oscillate between hate and regret.

If there is any criticism it would be that there aren’t any scenes showing any defense of Lukas from his teaching body or any help from anyone other than a single family member.  It could be argued this makes the film taut throughout and adds to the sense of injustice.  How could any of us defend ourselves against such hostility?  Who is preying on whom?

The cinematography deserves a mention because despite the contemporary setting there is an old-fashioned feel to the choice of shot which complements the essentially simple story.

Judging by the film’s low box office numbers in the UK many people didn’t feel the story was worthy of cinema visit which is a shame, but as a television experience nothing is lost because the claustrophobic story line can still be experienced at home.

This new Blu-Ray release includes an alternative ending and many of the usual extras we have now come to expect.