The hunt never ends. It can be explained in multiple ways but amounts to the same thing, the hunt never ends. It changes, it progresses, it regresses, but it never ends. So to speak, it’s like saying once a smoker, always a smoker. Once you are seen in a particular light, it becomes very hard to shake off that perception. A bad reputation catches on faster than a good one and is also very difficult to change.
Lukas is a divorced (or separated) father of a single son who works as a handyman in a kindergarten after losing his job as a teacher in a high school that shut down. He is only allowed to meet his son a few days a week and is trying to convince his ex-wife to allow his son to visit more often and stay a few days longer or possibly live-in with him. Lukas continues to perform the odd jobs at the kindergarten and stay connected with his group of friends whose favourite pastimes are hunting deer and drinking alcohol. His best friend’s daughter also studies at the kindergarten where he works who develops an infatuation for Lukas around the same time he starts a relationship with one of the staff at the kindergarten. Times get tough for Lukas as a small lie takes precedence over trust and friendship eventually creating havoc in their small town and, in particular, wrecking Lukas’ life in the process as he is just about to receive a second chance to reconcile with his son.
One of the most brilliantly crafted movies in recent times, The Hunt (Jagten) directed by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has elements of a small town story which affects lives in a big way. It may not be a film that everyone can relate to owing to the gravity of the situation that is created in the story, but it does have a plot which can be reasoned with and understood. The film doesn’t overdramatise scenes in spite of their thought provoking content, it merely places emphasis by taking the audience through the motions of the thoughts and the emotions that the characters will be witnessing. It tells the story from the point of view of a helpless man caught in a scandal with nowhere to go and almost no aid by his side. It also highlights how simple misplaced facts or half truths can have a drastic affect on any one person’s life.
Vinterberg has a way of picking out one-to-one peoples relationships and show them in retrospect with the big picture. He takes the audience up close and personal with the characters that play an important role in the outcome of the plot and allows them to understand each characters perspective. His style provides the perfect balance from human emotions to light background scoring and interesting, mostly handheld, shots that provide an insight into how the characters are feeling. The role of the protagonist is played to perfection by the actor Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen seems to be a perfect fit for the role since he mirrors the same persona as Lukas which is a sense of being responsible and hapless at the same time.
Vinterberg highlights the plight of a helpless man more than anything in this film. He also places a light on friendship and family, showing that one must be sacrificed in order for the other to grow. The plot also shows how people can be gullible and that one thoughtless action can result in the destruction of another person’s world as they know it. In the end, Vinterberg shows that perceptions, especially bad ones, are hard to shake off, and this forms one of the key messages at the end of the film.
This film may be one of the contemporary greats; a brilliant film which has come along after a very long time. It is an example that it is not necessary to have a large budget to produce an excellent film. It may not strike a chord with everyone since it is a little difficult to relate to and it may not challenge for the greatest of honours, but it does have an appeal of its own by bringing the audience into the action and providing an excellent film experience on the whole.