A kid says Mads Mikkelsen did the darndest things.
Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark, Special Presentations)
Monday, September 10, 9:15 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Wednesday, September 12, 3 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Like Compliance, but without a factual, stranger-than-fiction basis, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt is an infuriating account of a false accusation spun wildly out of control. The typically steely Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) stars against type as the kind-hearted Lucas, a kindergarten teacher in a rural Danish village. Recently divorced and bidding for greater custody of his teenage son, the devoted pater becomes an overnight pariah when a pupil’s impulsive lie sees him branded a pedophile.
The Hunt was produced by Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa Entertainment, and though Vinterberg stops short of subjecting Lucas to the sort of unrelenting, martyrizing, miseries his compatriot is famous for (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark), he’s not above employing manipulative contrivances to accentuate the injustice of Lucas’s plight. Also, though there’s undoubted truth to the film’s observations—that even good kids may be prone to fabrication, that the presumption of innocence is often illusory, that allegations of pedophilia are apt to inspire a particularly poisonous strain of parental paranoia—they’re not especially revelatory.
All the same, The Hunt is disconcertingly compelling, and is buoyed by developments that steer the sensationalistic subject matter away from transparently provocative extremes. Vinterberg’s film benefits, too, from a strong set of performances, notably by Annika Wedderkopp as Lucas’s naif accuser, and by Mikkelsen, winner of Cannes 2012′s Best Actor prize for his magnetic turn.