Despite already running in many countries after its debut at Cannes 2012, Thomas Vinterbergs The Hunt is only now gearing up for a stateside run. And for those of us whove been eagerly awaiting a new offering from Vinterberg or star Mads Mikkelson, we can now rest easier, because The Hunt is well worth the wait. In a story so simple it almost unfolds as a parable, Mads Mikkelson stars as Lucas, a well liked kindergarten teacher in a small Danish town where everyone knows everyone, and secrets are scarce. When one of the schools students says something negative about Lucas that they could not possibly understand, rumors and concern begin to grow among the towns adults. Lucas is soon removed from the school, and not long afterwards becomes ostracized and targeted by the rest of his community for his alleged crimes. It initially seems strange or unnatural how quickly things escalate in The Hunt, but upon reflecting on the film afterwards, its only alarming in how believable it is. Everyone in The Hunt thinks theyre doing the right thing by spreading the rumors about Lucas. Only us, the audience, are aware of Lucas innocence; the rest are just trying to protect themselves and their children. But The Hunt shows us the dangers of jumping to such quick conclusions, taking justice into our own hands, and how simple allegations can destroy lives regardless of the evidence. For Vinterberg, The Hunt is a sort of cousin to his most acclaimed film, The Celebration. Whereas that film dealt with revelations about sexual abuse, The Hunt is all about false accusations. Vinterberg has not been as consistent of a presence in Danish cinema as contemporaries like Von Trier, Bier or Winding Refn, but you could certainly make an argument that when hes in top form he handles the subtleties of drama as well or better than all of them. But of course, all of that is easier when you get to build your film around a performance like Mikkelsons. Winner of Cannes Best Actor prize for his work in the film, to say Mikkelsons work is masterful is an understatement; the amount of immersion and subtle, quiet detail he brings to the role is simply unbelievable. When his calm, collected demeanor finally starts to crack, especially during a brutally emotional scene in the local supermarket, its haunting. Mikkelson has only recently been gaining recognition stateside now that hes headlining Hannibal on TV; hopefully his work in The Hunt will drive some to seek out his previous work (besides his well-known turn in Casino Royale, of course). In the end, The Hunt is simply a superbly constructed drama. Every piece is it the right place. It is tough to watch at times because of its rawness, and troubling in its conclusion, but gripping throughout. Hopefully this return to excellence will lead to more consistency from Vinterberg; for Mikkelson, however, acting of this caliber is becoming routine.