The Hunt is a superbly thrilling drama with lead performance by VFF favourite Mads Mikkelsen who is outstanding as Lucas, a kindergarten assistant, recently divorced, but with many good friends in a close-knit community. But things go horribly wrong for Lucas when a child makes an accusation against him, and the situation escalates out of control.
The Hunt is forthright, powerful, composed and directed with clarity and overwhelming force, yet capable of great subtlety and nuance as ferocious as director Thomas Vinterberg's international breakthrough, The Celebration. The theme is admittedly familiar, and so is the implied analysis of what is going on, and yet Vinterberg endows it with such urgency and his superbly constructed script completely upends your expectations as how the final scene is going to play out.
Set in a small suburban town, Lucas, a divorced daycare worker is hoping to win custody of his estranged teenage son. Well-liked and easygoing, Lucas is an integral part of this tight-knit community, having lived in the town all his life and formed lifelong friendships with Theo and Bruun, who regularly organize the men's hunting trips.
Beloved by the children under his care, Lucas also has a special bond with Klara, the young daughter of Theo and his wife Agnes. Frequently finding Klara wandering the neighbourhood alone — her only respite from the constant rows between her parents — Lucas takes to escorting her home. When Klara kisses him on the lips one day, a shocked Lucas rebuffs her, telling her that only mommies and daddies should kiss in that way. Hurt and angry, the child tells the incompetent head of the daycare that she has seen things she shouldn't have, sparking a modern-day witch hunt that targets Lucas and grows progressively uglier, until it begins to seem as if there is no way back for Lucas, his son, or his friends. Rumours, innuendo and lies spread through the town like a virus, transforming the once mild-mannered Lucas into a tormented and embittered pariah virtually overnight.
Theo and Agnes' unshakeable conviction of Lucas’ guilt would be hard to believe if we hadn't already witnessed the festering resentments in their own home. Directed with consummate skill and driven by exceptional performances from a stellar cast, The Hunt is one of the most troubling and powerful experiences of the year.