Is it a movie? Is it an advertisement? No, it’s a… movertisement! Move On (2012) is a strange beast. Funded by a phone company, a car company, and that corporation that locked a poor girl in a shipping container after she was gang-raped, its (non-existent) storyline has seemingly been crowd-sourced. Like any movie-by-committee, the result is a camel. A camel that’s trying to flog you a car.
That said, it is by no means an unpleasant way to spend 90 minutes. (You can watch the entire thing for free at the official website.) Move On follows a jaded everyman spy as he travels across Europe on a non-specific covert-ops job. The resulting movie blends together indiscriminately all the classic action movie clichés. There’s beautiful scenery (from the grit of Alexanderplatz in Berlin to the sweeping coastline of Montenegro); fraught car chases; hand-to-hand combat; and of course a sexy love affair that goes wrong.
The Hunt (Jagten, 2012) is a deftly-constructed portrait of small-town hysteria. When nice-guy Lucas, a nursery worker who has an easy rapport with his young charges, is accused of paedophilia, the resulting fall-out is queasily compelling and acted to perfection by Mads Mikkelsen (because, yes, this is another one of my “this summer, I’ll watch Mads Mikkelsen’s entire filmography!” movies).
Taken purely as a piece of film-making, The Hunt is undeniably well put together. Seemingly throwaway scenes, such as Lucas being charged with taking a young boy to “do number two”, are cleverly revisited – the same scene later being used as evidence that Lucas had means and opportunity to abuse children in his care.
There’s enough detail to give texture and realism to the film. I loved the dog who barks every time someone says the name of Lucas’s ex-wife. And young Klara’s OCD fear of stepping on lines is a thread that deftly pulls the movie’s beginning and end together. The Hunt also makes masterful use of Chekhov’s gun in a truly thrilling ending.
Taken purely as a piece of film-making and out of any cultural context, The Hunt is great. Unfortunately, it was very hard for me to watch and not think about Operation Yewtree. Because, the fact is, the chances of a good man being wrongly accused of paedophilia are utterly dwarfed by the chances of a paedophile getting away scot-free with abuse because no one believes his victim(s).
Yes, mass hysteria about paedophilia happens (even in the face of no evidence). But, ultimately, I didn’t feel The Hunt made much of an effort to unpack the white male privilege at the heart of its premise. As a result, it’s difficult not to view The Hunt as a paranoid fantasy fuelled by the white male expectation that everyone should believe everything you say, always.
Open secret: I’ll watch any period drama involving a noblewoman having a hot, tortured affair with a man of lower standing.
Fortunately, A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære, 2012) manages to take this old chestnut of a trope and wrap it up in some interesting historical drama centring around Denmark at the time of the Enlightenment.
Clichés… but enjoyable ones
At its outset, Affair seems content to wade through the most shallow waters of cliché. There’s the fragile English beauty, Caroline, who has been married off to Christian, the crazy and callous King of Denmark. Sinister clerics and pompous noblemen rule the country for the good of themselves, while the King’s evil stepmother bides her time, waiting for the right moment to make a coup.
Yet, while some of these story aspects never rise above the level of cliché, Director Nikolaj Arcel does manage to breathe life into the central love triangle. Johann, a secret radical, is hired to babysit the mad king. Johann and Christian forge a surprisingly touching friendship, but Johann also falls in love with Caroline, leading to the aforementioned illicit affair.