Arresting, disturbing and scarily believable Danish film.
Mads Mikkelsen (of whom I too had never heard until his villain-turn in 'Casino Royale') plays the sole male teacher in a small nursery where one of the few attending children is his best friend's 5-year old daughter. One day she tries to give him a small gift but he, thinking it would be inappropriate to accept it, gently suggests she ought to give it to one of the little boys instead. The girl, not understanding the reason for his refusal, takes revenge by telling the nursery head that he has exposed himself to her. Of course at her age she has no notion of the potential consequences. The head's initial scepticism gnaws at her until she feels she has to confront him, while the girl maintains the lie - at least until it's too late when even her retraction isn't believed, most of all by the girl's own parents who, unable to accept that their daughter could have told an untruth, convince her that what she said she saw was real. You can probably guess the trajectory the story takes, and you'd be right. Ostracism, police, open hostility - word gets round the town where both he and his teenage son (of an estranged and hostile wife) are not even allowed to enter their local foodstore. The other young kids at the nursery, hearing the story, join in the conspiracy, saying that the teacher has also abused them. If I also say that the latter has a much-loved pet dog - well, I don't think there's any need to go into further detail.
This is a modest but brilliantly effective film which I don't hesitate to recommend. Its power is in the totally credible situation where we all wonder how many lives have been destroyed by lies generating circumstances which snowball out of control. [Even worse (if that's possible) would be cases where older children, who are aware of consequences, decide to bring down an adult they dislike - though that's not the case here].
Acting is uniformly of a very high standard. It's also a refreshing 'plus' to see a film where we are asked to empathise with a character who doesn't own classic 'good looks'. (We know from the moment of the lie that he is innocent, so it's not a 'spoiler'.)
A couple of moments of discomfort for me personally was seeing a deer actually being shot (near the start of the film) - and, in rather more prolonged form, witnessing the fate of the aforementioned dog. (I always wonder how they do this on film - seeing a dog which is lively and happy, then later...... Surely they don't do the unthinkable, even if that 'unthinkable' is cheaper and far less trouble to achieve? I don't wish to dwell on it.) Also, the cavalier attitude and merriment of the male hunting party - as well as the teacher's son's coming-of-age when he is allowed to join that party - was difficult for me to take, though that of course is the reason for their having such a group in the first place.
But if I divorce my difficulties on this aspect, which most of this film's viewers will either not share or are able to dismiss such feelings easier than I can, I have to say that this is a very accomplished film which I would urge anyone to see.
A highly deserving..............................8/10.
1 hour ago