In putting together this website, I felt it was important that it have a blog element so I could talk about my work and take you, the reader (thank you for reading by the way) behind the scenes and into the process of the productions I’ve had the privilege to work on.  While I was prepping some pictures for my maiden blog I saw that The Hunt was on Netflix and couldn’t help but put it on while I was working.

So the things I was going to discuss in this, my first blog will have to wait.  Because now I want to spoil The Hunt.  And spoil it good, so if you haven’t seen it, go watch it first then come back and let’s have a chat.  Here’s the trailer in case you need some inspiration to do so:

I have to admit, there are a couple of actors that mesmerize me to the point that if they put out a movie it becomes mandatory viewing.  Typically I watch movies more for who is Directing it, which I think is an easier sell to cinephiles because even a good actor can be in a bad movie.  That’s not to say that my top five favorite actors of all time list doesn’t contain some less than stellar films, but I find myself forgiving an easy to forget movie if these fellas just so happen to appear.

Just recently, Mads Mikkelsen has become a top contender in this short, but dignified, group of people that I will admire form afar.  In case you’re wondering, Brendan Gleeson is No. 1 and the only reason Mads hasn’t taken him out of the top slot is because Brendan has got mad range!  Mads fits snuggly into a certain genre of film while Brendan seems to fit in them all.  Not to type cast Mads, but if it’s a steely-eyed gaze and existential dread you’re looking for, most of his films will suit you fine.  His casting as title character in NBC’s Hannibal, is inspired.  It’s hard to think of anyone that could take over that role, arguable one of the most memorable villains in film executed brilliantly (pun intended) by Anthony Hopkins, with such ease.

So let’s get to it.  If you haven’t seen the film and you watched the above trailer, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “oh great, another foreign, feel-good, child molestation film.  Take all my money now!”  To a certain extent, your sarcastic response to someone telling you to watch a movie with such subject matter would be warranted!  Most movies dealing with this subject matter leave the horrendous event of molestation open-ended.  We, as the viewer, take the journey along with the rest of the characters who are shrouded in doubt.  In this scenario, our immediate and visceral response is take the side of the child.  And rightfully so!  Generally, even if there is a reveal at the end that the film that vindicates the accused, we still feel justified in our suspicion that we gave the child the benefit of the doubt especially since there are usually scripted visual characteristics in the accused written to create that doubt.

But here is where “The Hunt” differs.  As the viewer, we know from the start that the accused is completely innocent and because of this, we watch what unfolds with completely different eyes and a contrary set of discrimination to how we would typically react if this situation really happened to us.

Here’s the setup.  Mads plays a 42 year old, male kindergarten teacher, recently divorced.  It is obvious that he is in his element and is well liked by the children.  It’s a small town so everyone knows each other and he is well liked by his friends.  The same friends and town that instantly turns their back, some to a violent degree, when he is accused by a small impressionable young girl that repeats something she hears her older brother say about male genitalia to her principle.  Would raise an adult’s eyebrow, but probably wouldn’t have set off the chain of events that soon unfold when upon further questioning by the principle the little girl applies ownership of what she heard to Mr. Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen). The Principal, having never dealt with this type of thing before reacts quickly.

Here is where we, as the viewer, start to immediately judge everyone on the screen.  We are never given that shred of doubt in our main character.  We can’t go on the journey that everyone else in the picture now goes on.  We can see the inherent flaws in every process each character enacts.  But here’s the rub that having empathy bring us…I can not blame them.  I put myself in the parent’s shoes.  I would react the same way.  I would want to rip someone’s lungs out if they hurt my child.  I would jump to immediate and damning conclusions.  I would rush toward justice and I “would be right” and no one could change my mind otherwise.  This movie has put me in turmoil, because everyone, in THIS movie (not in life, not generically speaking) is innocent.  Except for the asshole that kills Lucas’s dog.  Screw that guy!

Here’s what kills me more:  Even when left to deal with having been wrong, it is easier to carry on with that perception of having been right.  Humanity is a a stubborn brood.  When Lucas is exonerated by the law, when the lie is revealed, when we feel like the waves of malice have settled, the hate remains in those that can’t let go of the doubt that such an event would create.  But I can’t argue that they shouldn’t let it go.

Great movies make you talk about them once you’ve seen them.  The Hunt is an outstanding film with top notch acting from everyone involved.  There isn’t a weak link in this movie and if there is, you’re so incredibly invested that any flaw is instantly forgettable.  It is not a feel good escape from real life.  It is a mirror of human nature and reminder of who we really are at our core.

I’m Jeremy Buller’s friend.  Goodnight.