Thomas Vinterberg’s timely drama witnesses the emotional devastation when an adored primary school teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), is wrongly accused of inappropriate behaviour by a young charge, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), who just happens to be the angelic daughter of his best mate Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen).
The girl later retracts her statement - “He didn’t do anything. I said something foolish” - but the damage is done and Vinterberg masterfully ratchets up the tension as close friends and colleagues turn on Lucas, meeting his pleas of innocence with shocking violence. “I believe the children - they don’t lie,” says headmistress Grethe (Susse Wold) coldly.
Mikkelsen is mesmerising as an honest man besmirched by childish spite, and the script provides the lead character with no obvious escape from his undeserved misery as momentum builds to a suitably chilling denouement.
Released: November 30, 115 mins