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Movie review: ‘The Hunt’

Posted 4:43pm on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

R (sexual content including a graphic image, violence, strong language); 115 min.

The Danish film The Hunt takes what could be a very predictable story ripped from today’s headlines — a kindergarten worker accused of child molestation — and turns it into a gripping, intensely personal tragedy that chronicles the collapse of one man’s life.

Mads Mikkelsen ( A Royal Affair, Clash of the Titans), Denmark’s most popular export since Legos, is Lucas, a mild-mannered divorced dad who seems to be happy with his modest lot in life. He works in a small-town school, is beloved by all the kids and hopes to spend more time with his teenage son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrom), who lives with Lucas’ ex-wife.

Things take a sinister turn when one of the children, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of his best friend, gets angry with Lucas and charges that he exposed himself to her. Even though there’s no evidence, Lucas is sucked into a tailspin of unemployment, harassment and friends/neighbors who turn on him like dogs in a butcher shop. The lowest point, when he’s beaten in the aisle of a grocery store, is one of the most harrowing.

Mikkelsen, playing against his macho type, taps into a well of despair to play the wounded Lucas, and he’s supported by an able cast and a strong script from writer/director Thomas Vinterberg ( The Celebration).

It seems as if every year, one or two Scandinavian imports quietly sneak onto American screens and turn out to be a candidates for being the best films of the year. Denmark’s A Royal Affair and Norway’s Headhunters could lay that claim in 2012. The Hunt should be able to do the same in 2013.

In Danish with English subtitles.

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— Cary Darling

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