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Hard Stuff – The Hunt

FILM REVIEW: THE HUNT

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REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

PLACE: Palace Electric, Cinema 7

PIC: The Hunt

PEEPS: About 10 present

 

Palace definitely has better previews than some others: Behind the Candelabra (Michael Douglas and Matt Damon play house as Liberace and friend) and a French thing called In The House, which looks better than ordinary as a talented student turns creative writing into something more visceral. The ads were pretty much yada yada yada; real estate, Honda, food. Coffee beforehand was ok.

The Hunt is about as far from Man of Steel or any other redrawn cartoon as it is possible to be. (Not that I’ve seen Man of Steel yet but the previews give little ground for expecting more than a surface level sweep and less irony than a Macca’s commercial). Full of complicated people (you know, like actual humans) and empty of CGI or other whitewashes over an average production. It’s set in a small, close-knit Swedish community where people go about their daily lives, brightening them with deer hunting and (more particularly) the celebration of a blokey culture around the business of killing Bambi and friends. One member of the group is Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), helping out in a kindergarten after the local boys’ school closed; his duties seem mostly to involve being jumped upon by small, giggling children. Lucas is estranged from his wife and desperate to see more of his teenage son Marcus. His best friend is Theo (Tomas Bo Larsen) whom he has known since childhood, but he is slowly drifting into a relationship with Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport).

The event that turns an idyll into a drama is that Theo’s daughter, Klara (Annika Wedderkop, in a performance of stunning maturity for a very young child), accuses Lucas of sexual abuse. The response of the kindergarten principal, Grethe, is completely understandable but it creates an impossible situation. Lucas’ lifestyle and relationships are destroyed in a sequence that plays out over a grey Scandinavian winter, even as he tries to go through a semblance of his normal life. He and Marcus encounter violence and rejection from those who, reasonably enough, are repelled by the monster living in their town.

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Too often, films find an easy way through something that challenges the way a society sees itself, and that happens here, to some extent. But this film also creates a jumping off point for a debate about one of the hardest issues in public policy and private conduct; at what point is a threat, which may or may not have substance, sufficient to warrant a destructive response? No-one wants a paedophile in his or her neighbourhood, town, state or (in fact) dimension, and for good reason, they are horrible and should not be able to give effect to their desires. Yet, at what point in the matrix of reliable evidence and gravity of threat is it reasonable to react? Where evidence is recognised as unreliable, at what point is it sensible to disregard the threat it engenders?  Can a community, and should it, act so as to restore a social position?  Can we forgive a wrong that may never have been, and can a victim forgive a wrong done in anger and just outrage?

See it with a teacher, a philosopher, a police officer, but allow time for its complexity to sink in before speaking. If thinking about the plot and its implications gets too hard – as it must – think about some riveting performances and a landscape that seems to require seriousness of thought.

Four flat whites.

FPB

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