Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2012: Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt

Mads Mikkelsen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes, for portraying Lucas in The Hunt.

The Hunt is an excellent film about a school teacher being accused of sexual abuse.

The second leading turn from 2012 for Mads Mikkelsen comes in a modern set piece where rather than playing a doctor who changes a kingdom he plays a rather normal man, which is also in contrast to his supporting roles in his English Language films where he is so often cast as the villain. Mikkelsen gives an appropriately unassuming performance in the early scenes as we see Lucas go about his day as a kindergarten teacher. There is something about this performance, even as Mikkelsen is just establishing Lucas as this likable normal guy. In that there is effortlessness to the point that it seems we are observing a man never a character. Mikkelsen though is equally at ease in how captivating he is all the same. There is nothing that Mikkelsen is doing other than representing an honest normal person but it is utterly transfixing. It is difficult to see where even to begin in terms of what Mikkelsen is doing that is so special even at this stage of his performance. His work though transcends any acting in a way that is fascinating but also pivotal to his role.

Mikkelsen's work makes us familiar with this man in the bit of joy he gets with working with the kids, but also the sense of responsibility with them as well. He allows us to learn of his dynamic with his friends as the somewhat shy, but outgoing enough member of the group. Mikkelsen's turn just is rich with history in that we have seem to come into observing this man's life at a random point. Mikkelsen, depending on with whom he is interacting with, says so much whether it is the comfort with his best friend Theo, or his slightly awkward yet charming in his own way flirting with his co-worker Nadja with whom he starts a relationships with. Mikkelsen allows such an investment into Lucas even as there is only one major difficulty in his life early on. It is again such remarkable work in how well realized Mikkelsen makes Lucas, yet without seeming attempting to enforce the viewer to notice, but one must when watching the film. The one major difficultly that we do see early is Lucas's inability to see his son, as he attempts to negotiate with his ex-wife to be able to have more days of custody with him.

In the phone calls to his wife though Mikkelsen is incredibly moving as in his words and the urgency he depicts the love Lucas has for his son. The honesty to his simple desire to just see him and spend time him is so eloquently found by Mikkelsen's performance. One does not see his son for quite some time into the film yet you want him to be able to because of Mikkelsen's heartfelt work. A far greater trouble comes unexpectedly due to Theo's young daughter, Klara, developing a crush on Lucas, which she attempts to act upon by giving Lucas a gift and kissing him on the lips. Mikkelsen's terrific in the way he is able to find the complexity in this relationship when Lucas has to put a stop to her behavior. In that he grants the right assertiveness yet warmth as he just attempts to tell her why it is not appropriate behavior. Again the depth Mikkelsen finds is notable though as there is nothing that only stands on the surface in his work. In this Mikkelsen creates the difficulty in the relationship by showing Lucas's affection as real, though entirely proper, which is misinterpreted by the young girl.

This leads Klara to make up a false story about Lucas having sexually molested her, which the head of the school believes. Mikkelsen importantly is able to convey how the lie actually grows all the more through Lucas's initial reaction, as he makes it such an honest moment of sheer disbelief that he doesn't deny only because he doesn't believe anyone could believe it. Mikkelsen portrays the lack of weight it initially has on Lucas's mind as he has Lucas go on basically as normal, since he knows there is no truth to the charge. The charge grows though which Lucas discovers first by discovering he can see his son leading him to go confront the head of the school. Mikkelsen is outstanding in the way his performance works two fold in that on one side, from the audiences view there can be such sympathy, while conveying also the way Lucas does not help himself in a natural way. Mikkelsen presents such earned outrage at the very notion, since he knows it is an absolute lie. He expresses this without reservation that reveals his anguish over not seeing his son due to the head of the school calling his wife, but it also shows how this indirectly does no endear himself to those around him.

The lies only grow which leads to a sort of hysteria among both the parents and children as they start accusing him of having abused multiple children. Mikkelsen is outstanding in capturing the intensity of the situation and Lucas's attempt to deal with the situation. Again how vividly he has already realized him makes these scenes all the more effective. Again though he shows so well that anger connected with people so easily believing the lie about him, and there's a great scene where he purposefully makes Nadja leave him because she shows any doubt on the matter. Mikkelsen though makes the action not only understandable but also powerful since within the anger he is able to attach to the turmoil in the man from being doubted over such a severe crime. When Lucas goes to attempt to speak anyone including in his friend Theo and his family who already begin by treating him as a convicted criminal, Mikkelsen finds such poignancy and pain there as he so gently delivers Lucas's earnest attempt to clear himself of the wrongdoing yet it falls upon the deaf ears due to the emotional state of his former friends.

Lucas's ostracized by his friends and criminal charges are even created by the false testimonies of the school children. There is a bit of happiness though as he is reunited with his son Marcus, and these moments are particularly affecting by how honest Mikkelsen realizes Lucas's joy at seeing his son with making the connection between the two wholly genuine. The reunion though is bittersweet though as Lucas is at first arrested, but even after he is released he faces harassment from the townspeople. This goes further than being ostracized by everyone except his own family as his window is smashed, he is attacked at the supermarket and his dog is murdered. Mikkelsen is amazing the way he is able to reflect Lucas taking in this abuse, as he shows him trying to stay above it in a way, but everything that happens still deeply hurts him. Mikkelsen wears this damage so powerfully as he shows the man just barely keeping it together with so many horrible things happening to him. Mikkelsen makes the moments of resilience carry such an impact after given such detail to the pain. In the supermarket scene for example where Mikkelsen ensure you feel every hit he receives from the aggressors yet makes the determination in Lucas believable when he goes back in to face his attackers. Mikkelsen is able to convey the way the modest Lucas breaks out of that modesty as a necessity of the confrontation and in doing so creates such a satisfying moment when he achieves his minor victory. However even after that moment Mikkelsen reveals the very real sorrow in Lucas when he has walked away from the crowd, giving the man forced to live solemnly by a community that has abandoned him.

This comes to a head when Lucas attends the Christmas Eve church service despite the hatred the town has for him. Now this scene, I'll admit from the outset is one of the best pieces of acting I've ever seen. In the scene Lucas sits in the front of the church alone watching the service paying attention to Theo in the congregation and his daughter in the choir. What happens next has allowed Mads Mikkelsen in this film to join the ranks of Richard Jordan in Gettysburg, and Dana Andrews in The Ox-Bow Incident, in that though I've never cried from a film I came very very close watching this scene. Mikkelsen is devastating as he reveals all of the trauma he's received in his emotional breakdown that is raw and absolutely heartbreaking. There are two moments where he turns to look directly at Theo and Mikkelsen again captures so much ache in a glance. His eyes say so much of what Lucas has been through and the sense of betrayal by being judged by his friend so swiftly. Mikkelsen is outstanding, as Lucas directly confronts Theo, by being such a mess fitting to a man who has had his life ruined by a lie. Mikkelsen has it all come out in such way that it so harrowing to witness. It goes even further as Mikkelsen makes it convincing that this show of emotion would make Theo reexamine his judgment. I'll admit I needed this film to have a happy ending, which does, mostly. The reason being Mikkelsen's stunning work that made me empathize with Lucas to such an extent. There is no limitation because of the fact that Lucas is a pretty normal guy outside of the central lie by how evocative and complex of a portrayal this is of a normal person. Mikkelsen gives an all time great performance as this is an example where I did not feel I was watching a character, but rather was just allowed to see this man bare his terrible burden.

52 comments:

Luke Higham said...

And that my friends is your new #1 of the year and the decade. :)

Louis: Ratings/Thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Great review of a brilliant performance, though I'm not sure he's 100% going to overtake Phoenix.

Calvin Law said...

Although re-reading that last paragraph...perhaps.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Art Direction, Costume Design and Cinematography of Hamlet (1996).

Matt Mustin said...

Astonishingly great performance.

Luke Higham said...

Must admit, I'm really looking forward to Friday night. Look forward to Louis' thoughts on Guardians 2 and hope Courtenay and the results are up as well, though they might get pushed back to Saturday.

Psifonian said...

An all-time great performance indeed, and a testament to the outstanding nature of the year it's in that he's merely my #3 in 2012 Lead Actor.

Charles Heiston said...

A brilliant embodiment of a character by Mikkelsen. A new overall winner i expect.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Aw shit, I guess Joaquin's dethroned.

94dfk1 said...

This review lived up to the anticipation. Well-written.

Speaking of GoTG Vol. 2, I actually saw it back on Sunday, since it came out a week early where I live.

Pratt- A strong 4

Saldana- 4

Cooper- 3.5

Bautista- 3.5

Diesel - 3.5

Rooker- 4.5 (My MVP of the film.)

Russell- 4

Gunn- 3

Debicki- 3

Charles Heiston said...

I saw it too, but yesterday. I thought it was fine.

Pratt- 3.5
Saldana- 3.5
Cooper- 3.5
Bautista- 3.5(He has potential)
Diesel - 3
Rooker- 4.5
Russell- 4
Gunn- 2.5
Debicki- 3

Alex Marqués said...

Great performance, what did you think of the ending?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

The wait was worth it :)
I hope Louis saves and reviews Thomas Bo Larsen, who I feel was really affecting and would give a 4.5.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: for a 2010s Danish version of Its a Wonderful Life, Mikkelsen as George Bailey, and in a 1940s American The Hunt, Jimmy Stewart as Lucas?

Calvin Law said...

Also, could you buy a 2010s British Die Hard with Simon Pegg as John?

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Your top ten wrestling theme songs of all-time.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: My list of Mikkelsen performances to watch.
Open Hearts (2002)
Pusher II (2004)
After The Wedding (2006)
Prague (2006)
Flame & Citron (2008)
Coco & Igor (2009)
Valhalla Rising (2010)
Age Of Uprising: Michael Kohlhaas (2013)
The Salvation (2014)
Men & Chicken (2015)
and Hannibal (2013-2015), which is the best portrayal of the cannibalistic doctor that I've seen yet.

Alex Marqués said...

Luke: what about Adam's Apples? I haven't finished it but he's pretty good in that.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: I'd include it, if Louis hadn't done 2005, but I'll recommend it to him after the bonus rounds.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: HBO have spin-offs of Game Of Thrones in the works.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I'll save Bo Larsen for the moment.

Rapaport - 3(Her role is fairly limited but she has a nice chemistry with Mikkelsen in the scenes they share together.)

Hassing - 3.5(Thought she was quite good with Bo Larsen in developing their relationship in just a couple of moments, and was effective in granting a reality to her reactions to the central element.)

Wold - 3.5(Again never made the reactions seem ridiculous and was pivotal in making the sort of hysteria seem like a natural occurrence. She's good in that she does not make her character seem like strawman or a villain, showing a genuine concern behind her actions.)

Fogelstrøm - 4(Thought his little mini-film of sorts where he's the lead was quite strong actually. Again in his chemistry with Mikkelsen being so moving but he was also excellent in terms of portraying his character's intense anguish at seeing how his father is being treated.)

Wedderkopp - 4(I don't know if she just had a cold but that sniff of hers is downright James Deanesque. Anyway this is a performance that wholly works, I won't try to gather exactly how much of it is direction, because in terms of what she does on screen she is quite effective in portraying the silent development of the lie, making it natural without being sinister.)

Art Direction - (Rather brilliant in creating such a grand setting for the play that grants it a particularly epic quality. It is simply stunning looking. It is almost fantastical in style yet fitting the grand style of Branagh's approach to the entirety of the play.)

Costumes - (Seems to take more than a few ques from The Prisoner of Zenda with the costumes and why not those costumes where great and as are these in their pseudo-Victorian style. They work particularly well in that they have this certain dynamic, modern quality that make them stand out, and denotes each character particularly well.)

Cinematography - (In terms of the visuals of the films I'd say this is the least impressive element though don't take that as being too negative. In terms of its framing of those grand shots it excels, though I'd say the actually lighting is good but not nearly as expressive as again the rest of the visuals.)

Makes sense as Game Of Thrones certainly has the material for it.

Alex:

Loved the ending and in terms of interpretation I felt the shot was real but he didn't actually see anyone alluding to the way he'll never completely live down the lie.

Calvin:

I could see all of those actually.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I might be missing one.

1. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. AJ Styles
3. CM Punk(Fire Burns)
4. Finn Balor
5. Triple H
6. Kazuchika Okada
7. Chris Benoit
8. Edge
9. Chris Jericho
10. Shawn Michaels

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Is AJ's theme from WWE or TNA, because my favourite is his original theme from the latter.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Since you've read the novels, what spin-off series would you like to see. I really want to see the Targaryen Conquest and Robert's Rebellion.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: His TNA theme.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Robert's Rebellion would technically be the best option out of the main back stories, as The Targaryen invasion and the Dance of Dragons would have to be battle and dragon heavy. Although they could do the Dunk and Egg stories (which I have not read), though it sound like they'd be the most feasible in terms of budget.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your top 10 Peter Lorre acting moments.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have there been any tributes or In Memoriam segments that got you really emotional. I've been watching quite a lot of them lately and I admit that the BAFTA tribute to Richard Attenborough brought a tear to my eye.

Louis Morgan said...

Charles:

Peter Lorre:

1. Mime Killing - M
2. Finding the M - M
3. Joel Cairo's Entrance - The Maltese Falcon
4. Hiding - M
5. Fake Falcon - The Maltese Falcon
6. The Come Along - M
7. Trying to Warn Mortimer - Arsenic and Old Lace
8. Having Killed the wrong Man - Secret Agent
9. "Rick, Rick" - Casablanca
10. The General's Farewell - Secret Agent

Luke:

2008 Oscar Memoriam.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: If Courtenay's review isn't up by tomorrow, could I have your thoughts on Guardians Vol. 2 and ratings/thoughts on the cast after your viewing.

Anonymous said...

Louis thoughts on Fargo s03e03?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is that the one with Queen Latifah. I love it too, especially the end with Paul Newman.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Hmm....not entirely sure what to make of it and I'll be interested to see how it plays into the season overall. It was a little strange to see them bring Lynchian influences into a Coen brothers show, though I did like Ray Wise in his two scenes. As it seems to slam Barton Fink and Mulholland Drive together, and frankly I probably would preferred if they stayed closer to the Fink vibe. Though I have to say the recreation of the beach scene was one of the weaker callbacks of the series for me. Even having said all that I still would qualify it as good, but do I wonder if it will end up being all purposefully a wild goose chase or it will come into play somehow.

Also I'm not sure we needed Officer Macdonald, though I'm sure he's great at ocular pat downs.

Luke:

Yes I believe so.

Anonymous said...

He was amazing.
Louis: What do you think of Roscoe Lee Browne's Kingpin (if you remember him)? Kingpin was overused in the series, but I think Browne had a great voice for him.

Luke Higham said...

What did you think of the Dunkirk trailer guys.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I really liked it. It looks extremely promising now.

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Your Sebastian Wilder and Mia Dolan for a 2006 version of La La Land? I could see Rachel McAdams as Mia, though I'm drawing a blank on Sebastian.

Luke Higham said...

I'd say Louis would consider McAdams a fine actress who can be very good, if not great whenever the material's there but I can't see him going with her at that stage of her career.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: If Angels in America was made today, do you think Garfield would've been brilliant in Kirk's role, since he's getting massive raves at the national theatre.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I really liked it. Do you think it'll be a better film than Interstellar?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I hope it'll be his best film since The Dark Knight, but I don't want to jinx it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Takashi Shimura and Tsutomu Yamazaki as actors.

Charles Heiston said...

Anonymous: His thoughts for Shimura and Nakadai. I forgot if he's covered Mifune and Yamazaki.

Nakadai - (I've yet to see a underwhelming performance from Tatsuya Nakadai who is one of the greatest actors alive, and certainly one of the most underrated (in an international sense) of all time. Nakadai's a fascinating performer as he managed to find a more understated method that is particularly notable within Japanese cinema. He's no less captivating than any of his contemporaries in his effortless ability in a vast variety of roles. His mere presence makes me excited to see a film, since Nakadai is always interesting to watch)

Shimura - (Mifune honestly couldn't have asked for a better scene partner than Shimura. Takashi Shimura's method to engage and encourage Mifune's own performance was remarkable in itself. His work goes beyond those collaborations with the occasional cameo role he so often had in his late Kurosawa ventures, but Shimura knew how to stand out in his own subtle way. There was a particular honesty and adept ability in his work to find the right tone and style for any given film. Then there is his performance in Ikiru which stands on its own, and is a testament to a one of a kind talent, as he could be so powerful in such a quiet way)

Luke Higham said...

Charles: He must've done Mifune by now and I'm sure he did Yamazaki as well.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: definitely, my friend has seen it and he says he's brilliant.

Calvin Law said...

Just had a 6 hour exam today, exhausted but so happy it's done.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Will you continue watching films that you've missed after the bonus rounds are complete. I plan on making lists per decade once you've finished.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: if you've seen it, thoughts on GOTG2 and ratings/thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on 'A Jedi's Fury' from Return Of The Jedi and 'Now We Are Free' from Gladiator.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Haven't had a chance to see it yet.

I'm sure I will, but can't say I'm thinking about that at the moment.

That Dunkirk trailer was amazing looks like it could be Nolan's most stunning film visually at least. It looks like it may follow a similair story pattern to the 58 film, with Harry Styles and crew mirroring John Mills's Story, and Cillian Murphy/Mark Rylance story mirroring the Richard Attenborough/Jack Hawkins story.

Anonymous:

Vaguely but I do remember him being overused, but his voice being a good fit for the part.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm sure you'll let us know. :)

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

I'd go with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.

Luke:

Now We Are Free - (Not my favorite song from the film in that I do feel it does feel just a tad out of the style of the rest of the music. Having said that it is a beautiful piece in itself particularly in combination directly of the melody of the instrument with the vocals. In addition its slow build and gradual increase of temp is incredible.)

A Jedi's Fury - (Perhaps the most underrated Star Wars piece. As it begins with that terrific bass that is such a perfect representation of the Emperor and the dark side. It though builds so powerfully with the strings then the vocals that carries such emotional power while also granting such a grand scale too.)