Flame & Citron
Bent Faurschou-Hviid, aka Flame (Thure Lindhardt), was a 23 year-old Danish patriot who killed Germans and collaborating Danes when the Nazis were occupying Denmark during WWII. He was a cold-blooded assassin. His driver was Jørgen Haagen Schmith, aka Citron (Mads Mikkelsen), who, at 33, was 10 years older than Flame. This is director Ole Christian Madsen’s tension-filled telling of their story “based on” fact, which means that there probably is a lot of dramatic license. But that’s appropriate because some of the characters’ actual histories are murky (some were spies, after all), so Madsen (along with co-writer Lars Anderson) had to make surmises about lots of things and people. What they surmise is pretty shocking.
Flame meets Ketty Selmer (Stine Stengade, in a mesmerizing, Marlene Dietrich-style, performance) who defines inscrutability. She claims to be a photographer but then it turns out that she is much more, with connections to both the resistance and the Nazis.
This isn’t your typical, romantic WWII drama. It doesn’t really have any graphic sex and no humor. This doesn’t show the resistance as daredevil adventure or enjoyable, certainly not an Eric Ambler novel or Alfred Hitchcock escapade. It shows it as a very dangerous undertaking loaded with constant tension.
Citron, especially, is very unhappy throughout the entire film. His devotion to the resistance is tearing up his marriage to his beloved wife and daughter. He always looks terribly uptight, always needs a shave, and is sweating constantly. Mikkelsen shows why he is one of Denmark’s best actors.
This really captures what it must have been like to have been in the underground. It eventually morphs into a position where Flame and Citron don’t have a clue about whom they can trust. Who is telling the truth and who isn’t? They don’t know and neither does the audience, right up to the very end. Madsen brilliantly creates an ambience that shows that killing Nazis and sympathizers isn’t the easy moral choice one might assume.
Some viewers might be put off by over two hours of reading subtitles, but it’s definitely worth it. In Danish and German.