Thomas Vinterberg's quiet, provocative drama, The Hunt, explores the devastating effects an accusation of child sexual abuse can have, both on those intimately involved and on the wider community. Lucas (Mad Mikkelsen) lives alone in a small Danish town; he's divorced, with sporadic custody of his teenage son. But he enjoys the male company of the town's hunting group, and is a lively, caring worker at a kindergarten. Then, one of the children — the daughter of his best friend — makes an accusation, and Lucas' world falls apart under the growing suspicion of the townsfolk.
Because we see that the accusation is false — it's a blurted-out statement by a confused little girl that is then "verified" by well-meaning adults — we're free to analyze the reaction with no parsing of he-said-she-said. But then, The Hunt asks, what value does "truth" hold for Lucas against even the suggestion of such a reviled act?
The film is uniformly well acted, with particularly good work from Mikkelsen (who is best known for his villain roles in Casino Royale and TV's Hannibal). The title, of course, refers to the town's group dynamic after the accusation, but also to the two deer hunts that frame the narrative, serving to underscore what's changed irrevocably.