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Flame & Citron (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 130 minutes.

OK for children, except for the graphic violence.

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 JÝrgen Haagen Schmith, aka Citron (Mads Mikkelsen), who, at 33, was 10 years older than Flame. This is director Ole Christian Madsenís tension-filled telling of their story ďbased onĒ fact, which means that there probably is a lot of dramatic license. But thatís appropriate because some of the charactersí 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 with both the resistance and the Nazis.

This isnít your typical, romantic WW II drama. It doesnít really have any graphic sex and no humor. This doesnít 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 up tight and always needs a shave, sweating constantly. Mikkelsen shows why he is one of Denmarkís 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 donít have a clue about whom they can trust. Who is telling the truth and who isnít? They donít know and neither does the audience, right up to the very end. Madsen brilliantly creates an ambience that shows that killing Nazis and sympathizers isnít the easy moral choice one might assume.

Some viewers might be put off by over two hours of reading subtitles, but itís definitely worth it. In Danish and German.