Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Hunt (Jagten)

A man who loves children finds his life destroyed when one of them accuses him of behaving inappropriately toward her in the new Danish movie The Hunt.

And this is why I stay away from children. Even my own. It's just not worth it.

OK, I'm kidding about the last. But having come of age in the '80s and seeing the McMartin fiasco play out, more "The Crucible" than the McCarthy era ever was, it wasn't hard to see that the easiest way to destroy a man was to level that charge against him. (Women, too, though not as much as has been evident by many recent cases.)

It's fair to say that Thomas Vinterberg's movie is about a perfect depiction of how these things play out as there is, suggesting a kind of universality to the proceedings not only not ameliorated by big, socialist governments, but actually made worse. (This is not, however, any kind of political movie. It's a human one.)

The story is that Lucas (Mads Mikkelson, Hannibal in the "Hannibal" TV series, A Royal Affair) lives by himself in a big house at the edge of town, near his best friend in the world, hangs with the local Royal Order of Moose, or whatever the Dutch equivalent is, and teaches at the local pre-school. (The only dude, of course.)

He's extremely popular with the kids, especially his best friend's daughter.

This plays out exactly as you think it will. It's like an oncoming freight train, inevitable and all the more horrible to contemplate and experience as it plays out in all of its gory detail.

Some of the trailers make it seem like this turns into a Most Dangerous Game-type scenario. This is false advertising and would've been a much cheaper (dramatically speaking) movie. Also, there's no ambiguity as to Lucas' innocence, which is good.

No, this is about how individuals and groups shut off all rationality if you tell them something horrible enough. It's a remarkably clear-eye film that steers clear of easy resolutions to things while not copping out, either.

Excellent film which is probably making the rounds in search of an Oscar. (UPDATE: Apparently competing against the documentary "The Act of Killing", somehow. Oscar rules are weird.) In the top 5 for the year so far.

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