Thomas Vinterberg, co-founder of the Dogme 95 movement and director of its chef d’oeuvre, Festen, returns to the subject of sexual abuse with the story of Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a popular kindergarten teacher who becomes the victim of a witch-hunt when one of his pupils, too young to realise the unavoidable consequences of her actions, randomly accuses him of inappropriate behaviour. Cut adrift in a sea of suspicion and insinuation, Lucas finds himself unable to prove his innocence, even to people he has known all his life. Mikkelsen (Casino Royale’s Le Chiffre) won the acting prize in Cannes for his quietly affecting portrayal of an ordinary man on the wrong end of a devastating accusation, suggesting with chilling plausibility that there are still crimes for which someone is considered guilty until proven innocent.
VERDICT As in his remarkable debut Festen, Danish director Vinterberg handles an incendiary subject without resorting to melodrama, while Mikkelsen’s note-perfect performance recalls the hard-bitten stoicism of Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin. ★★★★