Thomas Vintenberg has directed a near perfect film, a gripping and deeply emotional film.
from Brighton, England
, 19 Nov 2012
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a teacher at a school for young children. Lucas is well know to the small community in which he lives, he has many friends and is well liked. But this soon changes when he is wrongly accused of a crime.
Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) is Lucass best friend, and hes not coping too well with family life. Theos troubled young daughter Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) seeks solace in Lucas and his dog Fanny. Karla oversteps their friendship with an innocent kiss, Lucas carefully rebuffs her but she interprets it as a rejection. Klara concocts a story that Lucas abused her, telling the headmistress Grethe (Susse Wold) who believes her story. Grethe mismanages the situation catastrophically, and soon the whole community turns on Lucas. The family interrogate Karla several times but rather than believe her lies they put words in her mouth when she doesnt know what to say. Worst still, Grethe informs all the parents to look for signs of trauma in their children, and suddenly everyone begins to see signs of abuse that were never there, cue mass hysteria.
We are forced to watch an innocent man bullied, persecuted and ostracised because of the nature of the accusation pointed against him. Added to Lucass demise is Klaras position, shes since said to her parents on many occasions that Lucas was innocent, but they refuse to believe. This is a world where the innocence of a child is never in question, and its an interesting tactic by director Thomas Vintenberg to show the accuser in a negative light, especially one so young. The opposite is the case for Lucas, who is shown as diligently honest and trustworthy. Lucas is helpless, whether he reacts or not he is seen as the guilty party. Only one person managed to listen to reason throughout the mass hysteria, his close friend Bruun (Lars Ranthe) offering Lucas unwavering support and some much needed pitch-black humour to cope with his ordeal.
Lucas ordeal reveals a community who are quick to resort to illogical and degenerate behaviours. Watching the story unfold is unbearably tense and extremely powerful. Yet nobody is demonized in the film, everyone has their own understandable motivations and this only increases the tension you feel. Facts are based on lies, gossip and innuendo, not to mention the power adults have over their children. Its also indicative of the herd mentality not only of adults but also of children. The men in the community are all particularly close, they all including Lucas bonded week in week out like a band of brothers. To see all but one of them betray and bully Lucas remorselessly must have been traumatic, seeing Theo side with his daughter over him must have been devastating.
The acting by the cast is superb, Mads Mikkelsen gives a deeply humanistic and scarring performance. Annika Wedderkopp handles a difficult part with an amazing maturity for one so young . Thomas Vintenberg has directed a near perfect film, a gripping and deeply emotional film which will challenge and upset you but is sure to touch a nerve. You realise that this dark and terribly cynical film may be harsh, but its ultimately an indication that its all so very truthful and realistic, such is the world we live in.
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