Saturday, September 13, 2014

JAGTEN
(THE HUNT)

(DENMARK)
CINE EUROPA 17
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex


The title of this Danish film implies raw pursuit and violence which I'd have to add eventually does ensue in the middle part of the film. Yet it unfolds in a silent, creep.up.behind.you manner that although you expected it, it can be quite unnerving. Perhaps the idyllic background is to blame as it manages to shield your mind. The low key atmosphere of a small town, the silent snow as it envelops the scenery, and the simple nature of the life of its inhabitants. 

Lucas (Mads Mikkelson) is a teacher at a kindergarten going through a bad divorce and custody battle. He is content with his job and is sociable enough to have a good set of friends. His world is turned upside down when one of his pupils, 5 year old Klara accuses him of inappropriate behavior. 

The audience is immediately made aware that Klara is lying and is merely acting out her anger. But in a quick flash, Lucas' simple life is shattered - his friends turn their back on him, he is shunned in social gatherings with the whole town siding with the little girl solely on the premise that children never lie!

It is quite disturbing to watch as Lucas who enjoys shooting deer during weekends becomes a hunted man. A pariah in a society that is quick to judge without giving someone a chance to defend himself and proclaim his innocence. 

Throughout the entire incident, Klara doesn't fully comprehend what is happening and is protected from any form of scrutiny. Her single lie taking a life of its own, way beyond the normal parameters of good judgement. Unknowingly she herself becomes a victim just like Lucas.

As usual, Mads Mikkelsen is brilliant in his role as Lucas. His haunted, gaunt face really expressive as he struggles to maintain his innocence. And in the final yet pivotal scene where Lucas is shown in the woods during hunting season, it shows that he is stuck in a nightmare that never seems to end.  

"Jagten" was one of the 5 films nominated for the Best Foreign Language Picture in last year's Oscar awards. It lost to the Italian film "La Grande Belleza" about a man living a hedonistic lifestyle. But Denmark's entry rightfully deserved to be recognized as one of the best foreign films for 2014.

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