Flame & Citron: Something's Rotten in Denmark

flame-citronYes, now that you have asked, the inhabitants of Denmark do change their facial expressions. There's even a site to prove it.

However, in this lushly beautiful (thanks to cinematographer Jorgen Johansson) film, director Ole Christian Madsen seems to have ordered each of his cast members to embody Hamlet, a rather dour Hamlet. This is not totally absurd, considering the screenplay, but it can be a bit ponderous at times. The plot, based on a true story, takes place during World War II -- 1944 to be exact -- in Copenhagen.

Two freedom fighters nicknamed Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and Citron (Mads Mikkelsen) are killing Nazis and Nazi sympathizers at point-blank range. Apparently the two are even becoming folk heroes, which rather upsets the German invaders, who do not like being offed, especially by members of an inferior race.

But wait! There's more to the tale, and it has nothing to do with Jews. In fact, this is a Jew-less Nazi-atrocity film that will enhearten all of you who feel Jews have been getting too much screen time in this sort of genre flick.

No! The problem here is that the underground has been infiltrated, and someone is revealing the identities of the anti-fascist buddies of our two heroes to the Gestapo. What's even worse is that the culprits Citron and Flame are shooting down might not even be the enemies of their country. The slaughtered might be innocents.

Sort of like the characters in Broadway's superb production of Mary Stuart, in the current Harry Potter, and on Big Brother 11, no one can be trusted. Everyone is possibly betting on both sides of the coin. Note the title of Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman's new book: Paranoia: The 21st Century Fear. Is this the sign of the times? Though, as Kurt Cobain (and others before him) noted, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."

Angst aside, Mads Mikkelsen is one of the most charismatic actors working on the international scene today. Just indulge yourself in the Pusher trilogy and After the Wedding and you'll rejoice. You might also recall him as a Bond villain in Casino Royale. Here, however, all he is called upon to do is walk about with three days' growth on his chin while wearing a pair of the aforementioned Potter's eyeglasses, and look like he's going to burst into tears at any moment.

The redheaded Thure Lindhardt, who was one of the highlights of the recent Angels & Demons, another film promoting the ampersand, is quite solid here, yet Madsen's direction and the screenplay by both Madsen and Lars K. Andersen eventually undermine his unblighted efforts.

Several of the Nazi shootouts seem straight out of a B movie, and in a pivotal scene with a Gestapo leader on one side of the wall and Flame on the other, fact metamorphoses into inanity.

However, please check out other reviews. My date for the screening, a retired British schoolteacher, who insisted on staying in my apartment for ten whole days, thought Flame & Citron was "powerful." Additionally, both leads were nominated for Best Actor at the European Film Awards. I, however, could have used a Jew or two. - Brandon Judell brandon.jpg

Mr. Judell is currently starring in Rosa von Praunheim's New York Memories, which is still in production. In the fall, he'll be teaching "The Arts in New York City" at City College. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire, Detour, The Advocate, and dozens of other publications.

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