Jagten (The Hunt) review

An evil man once said: The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed.

To say I have been looking forward to “Jagten” is a bit strange. After all, the film deals with quite dark subject matter. Yet I recently rewatched and re-enjoyed “Festen” and was delighted to find that director Vinterberg was back with another look at the dark side of human nature. He co-wrote the screenplay with Tobias  Lindholm, writer of, amongst other things, the hit series “Borgen”.

In “Jagten” a teacher, portrayed excellently bij Mads Mikkelsen, is accused of the worst of all sins: sexual abuse of a young child.

What follows is an acutely observed descent into hell, for all involved. At times I found myself squirming in my seat, which is exactly what this films intends. The willingness of the townsfolk to believe everything that small children profess is both frustrating and totally believable.

This is what makes the movie so deeply fascinating and gripping. There is a frightening sense of inevitability about the way the world of teacher Jacob collapses around him.

A special mention has to go out to Thomas Bo Larson who portrays Jacob’s best friend with believable gravitas and feeling. A true star performance reminiscent of his stint in Festen.

There were really only two weaknesses that I found in the whole movie. First of all when teacher Jacob is first accused, to me his reaction is just too understated. It beggars belief to some extent that he would react more strongly. Secondly, and this is a pet peeve more than anything: Jacob’s teenage son Marcus is too heavily made up in the movie. It’s really odd and distracts from the completely realist feel of the film….

If you are into intense character studies, or just into great serious movies, make sure you catch “Jagten” – known as “The Hunt” in English language markets.