A Proper Neck to Strangle

Vinterberg's The Hunt (Netflix) annihilates the idea that solid storytelling comes down to "good v. evil." 

Quick summary if you don't watch the trailer: a divorced 42-year-old kindergarten teacher is falsely accused of sexually abusing the students and the whole town turns on him. Even after he's proven innocent, things can never go back to normal.

Is that a spoiler? I don't think it's that kind of movie. It's too good to spoil. 

The thing that really gilds this movie in cinematic gold is it's really hard to get justifiably angry at the myriad antagonists who torture our falsely accused protag, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen of Valhalla Rising and NBC's Hannibal).

They're an insular bunch of concerned adults who quite reasonably find the acts Lucas is accused of committing completely reprehensible. They take the obvious measures to proceed after hearing tale after tale of almost every available kid's bandwagon accusations. 

And I find myself thinking why can't they treat this guy like a human, at least? Why is this guy that everyone grew up with and have always liked all of a sudden a pariah? And then I remember: Oh yeah, because they think he did probably one of the worst things a man can be accused of in modern times. Murder might've been passable to these friendly people. Comparably, at least. 

I also want to get pissed at the little girl who leveled the primal domino in Lucas's fate, but even she tries to backpedal out of the story. The adults are too smart for that: they sense shame and suppression and they shut that up real quick, getting to life-ruining business.

Which I probably would be on the same blazed trail, but since the film is told almost entirely from Lucas's POV, we side with him. The only times the camera strays from Lucas's life serve to undermine our objectifying hatred of his accusers. 

After acquittal, they torture him, kill his dog, and beat the shit out of him as a means of refusing his grocery store patronage.

And yes, by this point one can feel justified in the old antagonist hatred, but imagine the anger of someone who really thought their child had been fondled by a 42-year-old bachelor to whom a heaping helping of justice had not been served.

You fucking kill that asshole's dog is what you do.  

So what's left if there's no one to get angry at? The genius of this storytelling is that you can't give your mind a proper neck to strangle, so you're hogtied by angst over just shitty circumstances, like some of the best of Larry David's double binds, but with the intensity cranked just past 11. 

But then again, it's not as lip-biting as this bit from Happiness, but that guy really did that.