Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Hunt aka Jagten (2012)


Theo: The world is full of evil but if we hold on to each other, it goes away.

You know, I''ve often thought that the melancholy and the angst which the Scanddinavian films offer no other cinema will be able to surpass them. "Jagten" is no excpeption. 

The story follows a teacher, who lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie. (

The film starts off like a serene symphony, slowly leading you into the events that are about to unravel. And just like that, without the viewer's keen or suspectful eye you begin to sympathize the lead character within those first few minutes into the film. 

The brilliance in the script, co-written by Tobias Lindholm (The Hunt, Sumbarino, A Hijacking) and Tomas Vinterberg (The Hunt, Festen, It's All About Love) - also the director of the film - offer a subtle exammination into the human relationships and their limitations. As the plot thickens, and the chracters are left with all those harrowing feelings to deal with, we are also being asked  ever so quietly to answer questions such  as - How far are you willing to go for the people you have loved all your life? How much do you trust them? How much are you suppose to trust them, and love them? How much are you suppose to know about your neighbour? How much gravity are we suppose to give in a child's words? How are we raising our children to behave and act? Where are we going as a 'free' society? And ultimately, how accepting have we become? 

So many philosophical enigmas all thrust within this film, that one cannot but commend the excellence of how both script writers decided to approach the themes and questions being raised above. 

However, the key in most films is the performances, and Vinterberg is still a winner with this one; like his so far biggest film success, 'Festen', the line of actors he chose to cast was with precise consideration and precision. First up, the best Danish export in acting for the past few years - Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, A Royal Affair, Hannibal, After the Wedding). A proper A-lister master of seductory acting, Mikkelsen, not only charms and engages intensely, but he also makes sure you understand the full reasons why you should side with his character. His powerful resilience as the scorned teacher, deflects the viewer from conlcuding into the most crude and vulgar assumptions of what really might has happened, and instead focusses in presenting us with the real issues that should be of our concern; how we treat people within a society, how far will our social norms allow us to accept people. Mikkelsen, is a mastermind in not losing our trust throughout the film, thus not letting us lose our way on where also the director wants us to go as well.

In regards to directing, Vinterberg is a glorious architect of the human psyche. He ever so subtly let us eavsdrop in the lives of a small Danish society, and he presented us with the issue: now it's up to us to decide how we would choose to solve it. Would we choose to solve it? Vinterberg uses long atmospherical moments to transport this eerie brokenness  that the modern society is facing, the evolving deterioration of a hypocrital society and the need to trully believe in human goodness. Whether we choose to believe that there's still such a thing or not, it's not up to the characters to solve. It's up to us, yet again.

It's only worthy to note the excellent collaboration of Vinterberg and Thomas Bo Larsen (previously collaborated in 'Festen' - with similar thematology) in the supporting role; a character who chooses to believe society's opinions rather than be willing to believe a different reality. Larsen is such an evocative actor that demands your attention whenever he's present on screen, he's not an actor to turn to violent mockery to pass on the massage of sheer hopelessness and devastation in his eyes. He's there, full on, battling with his volcanic emotions which will ultimately lead him only to a silent desperation in his approach to his dilemma; a friend or a foe. 

This film is breaking boundaries, is willing to break social norms and is not shy to give it to us as realistically as it possibly can; how open minded are we after all? How accepting are we with one another and how far are we willing to go to co-exist. It raises some fundamental issues that were constructed to build this modern society, which Vinterberg once again chose to show us, even in a society in Denmark - which is known to be one of the most evasive and fastest evolving societies in the world - even in a small little town, how people are still reacting and thinking in terms of sexuality and what is constituted as right and wrong. 

All these Vinterberg elaborates into his long eeries shots in the forest or even in the momentous silences between the actors' interactions. 

In my opinion this film surprasses any of this year's Oscar nominations - I shall carefully analyze in other posts as well this opinion - and it most definitely would be a worthy winner for Best Foreign Film .

Watch it with a tranquil mood, ready to feed your mind with questions and let the characters touch and humanize your soul.


The Hunt/ Jagten Trailer

1 comment:

  1. Just read your comment.
    Probably the best film I watched last year - in a summer cinema somewhere in Athens!
    Underneath its slow sequence of events, there's a volcano ready to explode... Absolutely perfect from all points of view.
    Mads Mikkelsen -my favorite, after watching Hannibal Season 1 last year!!!
    You never know how many emotions are hidden below that cold, empty look of his!

    I enjoy reading your reviews!
    Well done Lu :)