A Review of the 2012 movie "The Hunt"
"The Hunt" is a weird movie where the entire time I spent like a horror movie yelling at the screen "don't open that door!" I guess I have the mistaken view that I know about how to handle traumatic situations but I think the best thing would be to get the authorities involved, immediately, for the main character's case. I suppose the ideas of justice I'm most readily pushing forward involve social workers.
The movie would instead put the onus of its social critique on the individuals of a upper-class gang of parents who turn to violence after a mistaken case of sexual violence against their children emerges. It is such the case that we see people caught in the moral division between believing a friend and rightfully setting up boundaries in such a situation. The tragedy pretty much stems, in my analysis, from the fact that those boundaries were not properly dealt with, the social contract with these things being not popularly understood at all.
The movie really though moves beyond all that by moving ahead in time in segments of a year or so, wherein the much subtler distinctions of how friends and family digest trauma over time becomes the subject. It is here where the moral calculus becomes closer to what I accept as good subject matter for a film because there is no clear guiding line for the years after trauma. Something like a forgiveness can creep in, various objections and violences can happen, in a more open playing field, where the solution is not so clear, whereas for all the earlier stuff I only have this stringent assertion to the characters: seek help, seek professional help!!
Edit: On futher reflection, this movie makes the miserable mistake of finding "some inner truth" within the character of Lucas, as played by Mads, which is to exonerate him by appearance. It's Lucas's appearance at a holiday paegent, where his supposed victim is, no less, which convinces the father of said supposed victim that Lucas is not guilty. The idea that a subjective truth, or a matter of faith, can be the supposed exculpation of someone accused of child abuse is a poisonous one; one of the things abuse and abusers show us is the unlimited un-certainty that exists behind the illusion of our trust-- it's pretty impossible for us to look into someone's eyes and know what they did. Trust, the matter of so much doubt in the film, has to be transcended with the investigatory powers of justice and wider society, when it comes to matters especially like child abuse, because trust is actually not an appropriate method to separate abusers from society or verify if someone has actually committed crimes.
This is to assume two things: 1) that you can trust your justice system to do a good job investigating (which, in The Hunt, some German judge does at least clear the innocent Lucas) and 2) that the best method to cope really is to rely on the professionals. Maybe the professionals would tell me that the good approach is more lawyer-oriented or more flexible or something, maybe it's client-first, I don't know.
So, pretty much the evidence Theo (the father) uses to acquit Lucas (the supposed abuser) is the same his society uses to incriminate Lucas, which is trust... the medicine is also the poison. I dunno, I think it's kinda miraculous that Lucas would ever be able to regain trust within that community, I guess I should research some cases like that, if I have the stomach.
---It is also of the question whether or not we should then incriminate the "angelic" personal lighting that alights Mads in like the movie's poster, repeated throughout the film. See also the heroic cut on the bridge of his nose. The real remaining question for me is if this movie isn't kinda pro-pedophile for creating this fantasy of a righteous person wrongfully accused (who is exonerated at least partially by appearance). Like, it sets out a (as outlined above) totally unhealthy model for justice that vindicates the accused's righteous anger which like any so-accused might adopt, the movie seems sorta propped up to vindicate feelings of wrongful accusation which real abusers might adopt as their own. This is compounded because it raises the hope of the accused that innocence will be determined by emotion/appearance; innocence is not indicated by appearance, it is indicated by justice, which happens in the background of this film; the film would rather suggest, especially by the way that it is shot, that Lucas is innocent especially since he is a handsome blonde guy... in this way it feels, to me, critically suspect.
I should also note that there actually is an alternate and much scarier reading of the film where Lucas actually did commit child abuse. Because the film cannot show something that didn't happen, and can't provide unlimited alibis, it is possible to assume a history of Lucas's actions that do not appear in any scene. This mirror-image-film probably comes a lot closer to what I assume reality more commonly is, a reality in which a child abuser gets exonerated by a lack of evidence (because sexual abuse is hard to prove, even more difficult when children are involved) and bends the trust of his community to his will. The message of the film would then be reversed and would be something I approve of: that trust is insufficient to remove abusers, and is, in fact, a primary tool of them. But of course I prefer the film reality where no child gets abused.