Lucas is a recently divorced man who lives alone in a small town in Denmark. Caught in a custody battle over his son, Lucas spends his days teaching at a kindergarten where he proves to be extremely good with children. A lonely man, his life begins to show changes for the better when a new love interest enters his life but things take a drastic change when a young little girl tells a small lie about Lucas and her relationship. Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt is a dramatic tale of mob mentality and how quickly things can get outta control when the innocence of children is threatened. The film begins strongly, taking its time to establish the type of man Lucas is, showing a good-matured, sincere individual who is well-liked around town. This all beautifully sets up the tragedy which unfolds after the town comes to believe that Lucas performed sexual acts with a child. The biggest problem with The Hunt is how quickly things escalate into mayhem. Obviously this is an incredibly volatile issue but the films approach at showing this escalation happens way too fast, to the point of one questioning how believable it all is, which is quite frankly the result of lazy and poor writing. A major factor of this escalation is predicated on the simple statement that "children don't lie", which quite frankly comes off as laughable a few times in the dialogue. The most interesting relationship aspect revolves around Lucas and Theo, the father of the little girl, who also happens to be Lucas' best friend. I wish the film would have spent more time showing the strain early on instead of quickly rushing to this volatile situation which turns them into enemies. Much of the second half of the film Lucas is isolated and scared, being pushed to the brink from the townsfolk who are hostile and violent toward Lucas. While there is no denying how engaging Lucas' plight is, the film does become a little too manipulative at times, which became annoying particularly due to the fact that these decisions were unnecessary. Mads Mikkelsen is really the cog which holds the film together, giving an incredibly subdued, performance. The ending of the film may be my favorite part, showing how even after Lucas has exonerated, the fear and anguish which he went through will stay with him for the rest of his life. The Hunt is a solid effort that many will find quite compelling but in the end I was disappointed because of how good it could have been if not for a few over-dramatized and manipulative moments.
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