I went with a friend to see Jagten last night at, surprise surprise, Øst for Paradis. For some strange reason they’ve waited this long before releasing it in the cinemas — and besides a more recent memory in which to reflect on how lonely christmas must be without a family, the film itself didn’t give any new glues vivid enough for me to notice. But now it’s here, and while I’m not too surprised that it didn’t win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, it’s still a great movie that comes highly recommend (and Mads Mikkelsen winning Best Actor seems fully justified).
At times predictable and seen before — the dog dying, people bad at listening, the scene in the church (at some point We Need To Talk About Kevin came to mind) — yet it also had some very refreshing moments that actually more or less made up for it, such as his son and a friend staying on his side, and the little girl knowing that she did something wrong and trying her best to correct it. I didn’t expect that, and it gave a realistic and honest touch to the other slightly saturated and seen-before elements.
I don’t think the contrast was needed though, and these elements could have been left out from this point of view; since they weren’t I suspect at least some of them played a dual role. In particular, the film paints an unnecessary bad image of some characters to the point where it becomes unrealistic at best and frustrating at most. For instance you want to slap the lady managing the kindergarten around a bit for being very judgemental, not to mention the hysterical mother. Perhaps Vinterberg is sending a message to (Danish) men to stand up a bit and don’t be so dominated by females; as hinted by several dialogues, and not least the dog barking whenever it hears the name of the ex-wife. And the fact that redemption comes when even the strongest male steps into character and finds his own way.