Preview: The Hunt- the Scandinavians look like they’re having a vintage year.

I’m halfway through about 3 posts at the minute. I’m feeling behind, annoyed and out of date. This is what final year of a degree does to you.

This one is completely off the cuff and spur-of-the-moment, and what have you. It’s a film that has almost slipped under my radar and now I’ve had a closer look, it seems almost too good to miss.

Maybe I should write posts like this more often.

Anyhow, The Hunt stars Mads Mikkelson, whom most of you will know from the rather marvelous Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s first Bond outing. He made a rather good villain, but he has many more strings to his bow. In his native Denmark this is his second major starring role of the year, after A Royal Affair, a Danish period drama that Mark Kermode described as the best film of the first half of 2012.

This is rather different. Not for the first time since starting this blog, I’m going to say it follows in the vein of its other Scandinavian cousins, with a uniquely broody, cold and compelling line in dark dramas and compelling stories.

Anyhow, in this, Mikkelson plays Lucas, a devoted and much-loved teacher of primary-age children who, in a moment of childhood naivety and desperate foolishness on the part of one of his wards, finds himself at the centre of that most vitriolic of cultural atrocities; child abuse. The film follows Mikkelson as he goes from pillar of the community to a maligned target for attacks physical, personal and utterly depraved, as those friends and neighbours whose children he cared for seek to ruin him.

Mads Mikkelson as Lucas, the wrongly-accused Teacher hounded out of his community

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, we can expect a healthy dose of Scandinavian minimalism that he and others, including Lars von Trier of Melancholia and  Antichrist, committed to upholding a few years ago- signing a sort of quasi-modernist manifesto that detailed how they would set out their vision for European cinema in an uncompromising, stylistic wave of left-field lugubriousness that is underlit and undercoloured, harsh and challenging in tone and content, that tells stories that are at once impossibly personal and yet stunningly rendered in the cold palatte of Northern Europe. It is creating its own stereotype, and the world is waking up to it.

Thomas Vinterberg, Director

I have heard some quite wonderful things about the quality of Mikkelson’s performance, of the intimate yet dispassionate argument breached about this most degrading of human vices, of its terrible pertinence, particularly in British culture, which as much as anything is a “happy” accident of release times. One cannot help but think of the leering portraits left to us of Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, to name but a few, and think of the crisis of confidence in which late men of power are being exposed to have let us all down.

To distort Oscar Wilde, the modern audience’s dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban, seeing his own face in a glass. This is an intensely naturalistic vision of how society can be manipulated to exert its full, animal fury upon the least deserving of men; but in their righteous venom is an unsettling self-portrait, as we see ourselves living in a culture where nobody can be trusted and anybody can be blamed. It looks to be the most harrowingly exact cautionary tale we could expect.

I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I hope you do too.

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