The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A hard-hitting Danish punch right in the guts

with 19 comments

We’re all innocent until proven guilty, right? That’s how we’ve dealt with justice for thousands of years. Or as the Romans put it: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. The burden of proof lies with who declares, not who denies.

It all sounds so good in theory. But in practice it’s different, especially for certain types of crime, such as sexual abuse of children. Regardless if there’s any evidence at all, regardless of what verdict the justice system makes, you’re judged by the public in the very moment an accusation of such abuse is tossed at you.

Once the words have been said they stick. They can’t be taken back or washed away, since people assume there’s fire where there’s smoke, which is nothing but a big lie to justify gossip, groundless fear and prejudices.

The Danish movie The Hunt shows the breakdown of Lucas who one day finds himself falsely accused of having molested the five-year old daughter of his best friend. The accusation comes from a misunderstanding, but things quickly get out of hands in the small town environment. Before he knows it he has lost his job and most of his friends. And from there it’s all downhill.

Magical pills of humour
Does this sound as a dark movie? It is. I think it would have been too much for me to stomach if it wasn’t for the little nuggets of humour that Vinterberg has provided. It’s not much, but the few comic releases work the same way as the “magical pills” my parents used to hand out during hiking tours in the Swedish mountains when I grew up (in fact tic-tac). They help you keep going when you think you’ve had enough and can’t take anymore.

What also helps you get through this move despite its painful theme is the fact that it’s so well crafted. The cinematography is great and the script and the editing as well. The story kept me in a tight grip from the very start to the end. It’s easy to identify with Lucas, excellently played by Mads Mikkelsen. But as mad as I get with his friends who turn their backs to them, I can also, somewhere deep down, feel a sting of sympathy or at least understanding for their behaviour. If it was my child that had brought up such a suspicion, wouldn’t I act on it immediately rather than wait for formal justice to have its course?

A necessary debate
It’s been 15 years since last time I saw one of his movies movie. It was The Celebration, which I remember as an equally emotionally draining experience. And now Vinterberg has done it again. That guy knows how to address a punch in your guts so you won’t forget it anytime soon.

Hopefully this punch will lead to awareness and a necessary debate about the danger of letting fears and rumour turn us into bloodthirsty predators operating outside of the law.

The Hunt (Jagten, Thomas Vinterberg, DK 2012) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

April 15, 2013 at 1:00 am

Posted in The Hunt

19 Responses

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  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing this and now even more. Lovely review. And now I have a feeling this will stick with you after watching.


    April 15, 2013 at 1:07 am

    • It definitely will. I thought Sweden was the last country to get it – it opened in Cannes in May last year. But apparently it has yet to be launched in some places. Or maybe it just didn’t get a wide theatrical release. If that’s the case – look out for it on DVD/VOD. It’s great.


      April 15, 2013 at 7:11 am

  2. Nice one Jessica. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. Can’t wait to see it. Even more so, now that you give it top marks.

    Mark Walker

    April 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    • It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year. Beautifully crafted, powerful, gripping, great acting, thought provoking. Can’t recommend it enough.


      April 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      • Thought I’d swing by again, now that I’ve finally seen it.

        Great point about being innocent until proven guilty. Vinterberg marvellously turns that on its head with this film.

        It’s so well crafted and acted and I really should check out more from this director. I haven’t seen anywhere near enough of his films.

        Mark Walker

        July 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        • Festen, The Celebration I think it’s called in English, is a must-see in case you haven’t already seen it.


          July 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

  3. So disturbing. Such an amazing film though. Here’s our review if you wanna read it You’re spot on with the final paragraph right there. Great stuff.


    April 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    • Thank you for pointing me to your review! We certainly agree on this movie. I hope we can help spreading the word about it. It’s truly harrowing, but so excellent. A movie I sincerely recommend most people to watch.


      April 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

  4. Great review, Jessica. Really looking forward to watching this one. I loved Vinterberg’s Festen and I’m glad this is another “punch in the guts”. Love films like that, even if they’re sometimes hard to watch.


    April 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    • Thanks Fernando! I think you’re going to like it. It’s got the same emotional intensity as Festen, though less of the Dogma aesthetics.


      April 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  5. Agree with your review. Have seen this a couple of months back and it left a lasting impression, thanks to the well crafted story and acting. As you say I could understand the parents reaction, if something like this happens you won’t quickly challenge what your child is saying. Today I was browsing IMDB and found out there is a documentary about this very subject where people who were in this situation have a say about the impact it has had on their lives, it’s called Witch Hunt.


    April 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    • Even if I saw it early in the year, it will definitely be a strong contender for my top 10 list in the end. It lingers. I’ve seen some negative reactions against it from people who fear that it will lead to a more difficult situation for children who actually have been abused, but I don’t agree with this. I think you must be able to talk about both problems: innocent people who are falsely accused as well as real victims who aren’t taken seriously. It’s just as bad.


      April 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  6. Just seen it and it ties with Sugar Man for best movie I’ve seen this year.

    I loved Festen and this movie is just as good, it’s also a movie that let’s you think. The way in which the child was “interrogated”, they just put words in here mouth and she nods because she senses that’s what the grown ups want her to do. Or how hard it must be to be falsely accused of something so horrible. Even if you’re proven to be not guilty, where there’s a smoke, there’s fire.


    May 12, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    • I’m glad you liked it too. It will definitely be high on my top list in the end of the year.


      May 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

  7. Strange how it’s only released now in Sweden, almost a year since we got it in Ireland. My second favourite movie of 2012.

    • It was released in April but I didn’t notice there was a thread for reviews at LAMB until now. But yes, it’s ridiculous how long we had to wait considering it’s made by our colsest nighbour and I think there’s even Swedish money involved. Once Swedish actor in it (the gf).


      July 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  8. […] The Velvet Café (5) […]

  9. […] 2. The Hunt This movie hit me like a punch in my guts when I watched it in the beginning of 2013.  I haven’t recovered completely yet. What’s most troubling about this film isn’t how the neighbours, family and friends treat xx when wrongly is accused of child molesting. It’s that I can’t rule out that I would do the same if I was in their situation. […]

  10. […] “A hard-hitting Danish punch right in the guts.” Jessica Elgenstierna, The Velvet Café […]

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