The great Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen gives a powerful performance in "The Hunt," an intense melodrama of an average man doomed by an innocent lie.
Mikkelsen plays Lucas, who's battling his ex-wife for custody of their teen son (Lasse FogelstrÃ¸m) while he takes a job at the local kindergarten. Then Klara (Annika Wennerkopp), the 5-year-old daughter of Lucas' best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), tells the school's principal, Grethe (Susse Wold), a made-up story that Lucas showed her his genitals. The accusation spreads like a virus as panicked parents start thinking their kids were also molested, and Lucas becomes a pariah among his neighbors and former friends.
Director Thomas Vinterberg ("Dear Wendy," "The Celebration"), co-writing with Thomas Lindholm ("A Hijacking"), lays on the small-town stereotypes a bit thick to push the audience's buttons. But Mikkelsen (now freaking out Americans as the title character of NBC's "Hannibal") gives the persecuted Lucas a gravity and an intensity that make for compelling viewing.
Opens Friday, Aug. 16, at Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for sexual content including a graphic image, violence and language; in Danish with subtitles; 115 minutes.