Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt opened the red carpet premieres at the Chennai International Film Festival

The Danish film, Jagten (The Hunt), directed by Thomas Vinterberg, which was the first film to be screened as part of red carpet premieres at the Chennai International Film Festival, offers a disturbing look at the cracks in the complex web of legal and social laws that has turned modern Scandinavian societies (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) into stable welfare states.

Firmly anchored in a small Danish village, where everybody knows everyone else, The Hunt is about a school teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelson) who is accused of sexual misconduct with a girl child, Klara (Annika Wedderkop), who also happens to be the daughter of his close friend, Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen). Overnight, Lucas goes from this lovable kindergarden teacher to being branded a serial child rapist.

Vinterberg delves deep into the psyche of a society in which sexual crimes are viewed in such a way that the stigma of being accused of child abuse stays with the person even after the courts find no evidence of any wrongdoing.

It’s quite brave of the Danish director to question this moral obsession of Western Europe.

There was always a danger that the writers ( Vinterberg and Tomias Lindholm) could be accused as being reactionary: focussing on an odd case to paint a gloomy picture about how the Scandinavians react to sexual crimes.

But, the nuance that the two writers lend to their characters makes any such criticism impossible. The movie doesn’t place the blame entirely on Klara either as she is shown to be living in a highly sexualised environment, where access to explicit material is easy.

What a performance it was from Mads Mikkelson playing Lucas, who remains dignified despite society jumping to hasty conclusions and reducing him to something he is not. This film is a must watch!