07/15/2013 06:20 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2013

Popcorn Preview: The Hunt

Film: The Hunt (Jagten) (2012)
Cast includes: Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale), Thomas Bo Larsen (Ambulance)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg (It's All About Love)
Genre: Drama (115 minutes) Danish with subtitles

"Wait for me... Wow, it's cold!" Theo jumps in the lake buck-naked. Yikes! He's suddenly got a nasty cramp. None of the other rowdy, inebriated buddies rush to save Theo because they know Lucas will. They cheer as Lucas drags Theo from the freezing water. And it's off to find hot totties and get Lucas some dry clothes. By day, Lucas is a kindergarten teacher. It looks like an ambush, as Lucas approaches the gate... Kids peek out, watching him enter the schoolyard. "Something fishy is going on here," says Lucas. That's when the kids race out and throw themselves all over their lovable teacher. Later that day, Theo's daughter, Klara is standing by herself waiting for Mom or Dad to pick her up. Maybe they forgot. No problem... "We can go together with Fanny." That makes Klara smile. She loves Lucas's dog, Fanny.

Klara overhears things at home... for example Theo says Lucas is unhappy because he lives in that big house all alone. It's true that after the bitter divorce, Lucas misses his teenaged son, Marcus. But it looks like he and his ex might work out an agreement for Marcus to spend more time with his dad. Theo's been pushing Lucas to call her and make it happen. It's a small town and everyone knows everyone else's business. As Lucas drops Klara off, her teenaged brother and a few friends are laughing and joking around. They've got porn pictures on the iPad, and they're enjoying some rowdy boy talk about pointed rods... "I've got a giant hooker rod!" They hardly notice Klara... Anyway, she's too young to understand. Klara walks with Lucas to school the next day, too. It almost seems like Klara prefers it when her parents can't take her. Lucas assumes it's because of Fanny. At school, Klara wraps a little heart and leave it in Lucas's coat pocket. Later in the pillow room, after roughhousing with the kids, Lucas suddenly gets a firm kiss on the lips from Klara. When he finds the heart, he knows he's got to nip this thing in the bud. "You should give this heart to one of the boys." "What heart?" Klara denies that she left it, even though it's obvious she did. And about the kiss... "You shouldn't kiss anyone, unless it's your mom or dad." "The heart isn't from me."

Later Grethe, the school administrator, finds Klara all alone. She asks why Klara didn't walk home with Lucas. "I hate Lucas. He's stupid." When Grethe asks what's wrong, Klara says, "He has a penis that points straight up like a rod." Grethe doesn't know what to think, but she obviously needs to investigate. She first asks Lucas, without giving him any information about which kid accused him of showing which body part. Lucas is upset, of course, but he's sure the truth will become obvious. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon the whole town is on a witch-hunt to find evidence that Lucas is a "fucking pervert." This is a beautifully crafted film. Mads Mikkelsen is both subtle and nuanced as Lucas, and Annika Wedderkopp gives a stunning performance as Klara. This is an intensely moving story that relies entirely on excellent performances, and succeeds impressively. Lucas can't believe how everyone has turned on him. "Have you gone completely mad?" he asks. It may seem like madness, but everyone knows one thing for sure... "Children don't lie."

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
A beloved kindergarten teacher is accused of child abuse

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content)
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Primary Driver: Character development
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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