MIFF Review: The Hunt (2012)

Danish director Thomas Vinterburg has never been one to shy away from diving head first into provocative territory, and this tendency is on display once again in his latest offering, The Hunt.

Maaks Mikkelsen gives an outstanding lead performance as a kindergarten teacher working in a close-knit community, only for his life to be overturned when an accusation is made against him by a child. The situation quickly spirals out of control, as the residents are quickly overtaken by paranoia, turning on the accused in ever more brutal and devastating ways.

The subdued approach of The Hunt to its subject matter is particularly striking. 
The film slowly ratchets up the tension, forcing the audience to watch helplessly as an individual’s life is gradually destroyed by a a groundless remark from a child. The decision by Vinterburg to leave in no doubt the main character’s innocence quite early on only adds to the horror of the situation. This in many ways returns to ground covered in earlier Vinterberg films:  how ‘stable’ institutions such as the family and communities collapse in on themselves with such ease when confronted with their own imperfections.

The Hunt’s well-constructed screenplay means that the film is nothing but gripping throughout its entirety, and although it hints at a resolution of some sorts, its chilling final scene makes clear that the damage inflicted may never truly be undone.

The Hunt played at the 61st Melbourne International Film Festival. It will be later distributed by Madman Films. Read more of our festival reviews.

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