A few years ago, I discovered that my Grade Six teacher had been convicted of sexual misconduct with a student. It was a world-shattering surprise, like my insides had collapsed into nothingness. That moment of immeasurable shock occurs many times across the course of The Hunt, as kindergarten teacher Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a young girl in his care. More accusations accumulate, and Lucas’s life is thrown into turmoil as the small Danish community turns vehemently against him.
For much of the film, it is unclear whether we’re watching a modern take on The Trial, an innocent man’s life destroyed by accusations he cannot defend himself against, or if the film is gradually developing our sympathy for an irredeemable monster. That ambiguity lends The Hunt unique power; it’s a confronting film, both for its subject matter and the difficult questions it poses. If you’re in Lucas’s shoes, how can you possibly defend yourself? Is it fair for one man’s life to be ruined by an unsubstantiated allegation? But how can you not harshly judge someone accused of such a thing? To its credit, The Hunt understands that there is no easy answer to these questions.