Movie Review -- 'The Hunt'
Posted by Jeff Bernett on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM By Jeff Bernett / December 30, 2013 Comment
Lucas has viewers rooting for him, but all the while in fear of reprisal -- or even guilt by association. Lucas’s best friend, Theo, is expertly played by Thomas Bo Larsen. In Theo, viewers see a man almost instantly willing to disown (and even physically attack) someone who had been a close friend of many years. Kindergarten head teacher Grethe, played by Susse Wold, is a perfect mirror image of human irrationality and baseless fear. Only two characters refuse to believe the accusations against Lucas: his friend Bruun and his son Marcus, played by Lars Ranthe and Lasse Fogelstrøm, respectively. These two characters remind viewers of rationality and loyalty in a world where such qualities don’t exist. Technically speaking, The Hunt is beautifully understated. So much of what made this film so effective was its simplicity and realism. There are no disproportionately beautiful people. No explosions. No fancy editing. No “overly-scripted” dialogue. No “Williams-esque” film scores. No tagged-on plot twists. The semi-documentary cinematography style adds to the sense of being in the room watching events unfold, but it’s not overdone to the point of being nauseating or distracting. The pacing is natural, and there are no awkward temporal shifts. While watching this movie, if you are able to rip yourself away from the story, you realize you are in the hands of a master storyteller completely in control of his craft. The implications of The Hunt are heavy and far-reaching. Its central theme of “baseless belief is dangerous” is nothing new. However, as the theme is applied in this particular story, viewers see how quickly a child’s idle comment that is one part regurgitation and one part post-rejection spite can turn into wild accusations -- and, more creepily, complete belief in those accusations. Viewers, particularly adult men who work with or around children, also come to understand the precarious ground they walk upon. Indeed, in this story, the town’s attitude is “guilty until proven innocent -- and even then still guilty.” The psychology behind this kind of thinking calls to mind an excellent book entitled The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. Shermer asserts that people form their belief first, and then apply logic and seek out evidence that supports that belief. Though I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about Shermer’s book, the research he includes provides a very useful lens to watch The Hunt through. Simply put, I highly recommend The Hunt. Even though I could go on for hours about the merit of its plot, technical achievements, acting, and reach of its thematic elements, the fact remains that this film affected me. Deeply. And though it may be a mistake to judge the quality of a movie solely upon the emotions it incites, I will continue to make that mistake. Emotions, mine or yours, are things we don’t have the power, or cause, to justify. Photos via: Google