Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Flame & Citron ***
Director: Ole Christian Madsen
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Thure Lindhardt
Stine Stengade, Christian Berkel, Peter Mygind
"We will need heroes" says someone to Flame (Lindhart) and Citron (Mikkelsen), almost asking them to fill the void.
They are the most representative figures in the Danish Resistance against Nazi invaders; their mission is to eliminate Nazi officers as well as Danes who are betraying their country.
Their targets include high rank Nazi officers, double agents and even women! Their dilemma lies in identifying the cause for their actions.
A German officer (Hanns Zischler) tells Flame that there are only three reasons why people go to war:career opportunity, ideology and hatred for their enemy.
The film mostly tries to fit them into one of those to make their legend more understandable (after all the movie is based on true events) and the unlikely heroes find themselves killing people while trying to lead normal lives and even find romance.
Unlike American WWII films which take themselves so seriously, "Flame & Citron" plays out like a historical thriller with film noir strokes.
Both lead characters narrate the film at one point or another, their contributions filling in facts that remain unknown to the other.
Lindhart gives a brilliant performance as the baby faced Flame, despite his young age; he's 23 as the object of his affection, femme fatale, Ketty Selmer (Stengade) points out disturbed.
Despite this Lindhart evokes a sense of timeless valor and to some degree even animalistic violence.
Citron, as played by Mikkelsen, comes off as a nervous-he's always sweaty-figure who makes obvious that it's his compromise with the cause that made him leave behind a completely different life.
In one pivotal scene he "robs" a grocery but refuses to take the money, only taking goods for his estranged wife and daughter. And after his woman confesses she has fallen for someone else she exclaims "if I tell you [who he is] you'll kill him!", ignorant to the fact that her husband is in fact yet to commit his first homicide.
In this way the film also plays with our conceptions of public figures and the way they see themselves. This notion also plays out like a flaw in a way, because even when German officers seem to know the identity of the rebels-Flame's bright red hair being one of the details they hunt-they still roam largely in places crowded by Nazis.
The screenplay has a slight problem establishing differences between what we know and what the rest of the characters know; therefore, when the movie reaches its "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"-like finale we aren't really surprised, just mystified that it took so long for it to come.