As I was browsing through movies to stream, I cam across a Danish World War II movie called Flame & Citron. The film had a favorable rating. I enjoy period films, particularly World War II films, so this appeared to be in my wheelhouse. While not as good as I expected, it was still a solid film.
Flame & Citron relates the true story of two Danish Resistance fighters who gained widespread acclaim during the German occupation of Denmark. The Flame, aka Bent Faurschou-Hviid (Thure Lindhardt) narrates the story by way of a letter that he leaves for Ketty Selmer (Stine Stengade). As portions of the letter are read, events correlating to the dates or subject matter are explored. Through the letter, Bent conveys the story that quickly became legend.
Bent and Citron, aka Jørgen Haagen Schmith (Mads Mikkelson) are police officers (or portray themselves to be) who are members of the resistance. They take their orders from a seedy police commander, Winther (Peter Mygind) who claims to be in direct contact with intelligence agents in London. Flame is the primary shooter. At twenty-three, he seems to have ice water running through his veins. Yet Flame maintains his likability. When Winther starts changing their targets from Danish Nazi's to German citizens, the duo become frustrated. They want to kill Nazi's. In fact, they want to kill the Nazi, Hoffman (Christian Berkel), head of the Gestapo. As their missions begin targeting people that raise their suspicions, things become complicated. Bent begins a relationship with Ketty, a spy whose chain-of-command seems fuzzy. Their targets become more mundane. They soon realize that they may be pawns in a shell game which they do not control. The pair end up taking control of the resistance, picking their own targets, until they are undone by someone they trust.
I enjoyed the approach writer Lars Andersen and director/writer Ole Christian Madsen took to tell this story. They frame the story through the narration of a letter, whose significance is realized at the end of the film. This technique brought the story full circle and added poignancy to the events. It was a tidy package. Although stylized and embellished, the story was intriguing. The characters were developed fairly well, mostly through brief interactions that almost appeared intended to added depth to their characters. In that respect, the story felt a little forced. The events themselves created suspicion full circle around the pair, creating decent suspense. The writers do a good job of recreating the feel of a situation where you can trust nobody, and exploited it for full effect.
Lindhardt and Mikkelsen were great together. While we almost get two separate but coinciding stories at times, the pair worked well together. Lindhardt was boyish but cold-blooded. Not an easy sell...but the the actor made it work. Mikkelsen sweats profusely throughout the film, an indication of his character's drug use (possibly amphetamines because he also rarely sleeps). There was good continuity of this effect. Stengade was okay, but I was less than impressed by her performance. She didn't fully convince me. Berkel put in a solid performance and was almost likable at times. The film was fairly well cast, with some room for improvement.
Flame & Citron takes a period story from World War II and brings it to life. The story was neatly packaged. However, I finished the film feeling like I did not really know the characters and viewing their accomplishments as being marginal. Based on the snapshot in this film, most of their work involved personal politics and was not much about the resistance. I also felt like the character development injected into this film was forced at times. There were two scenes that felt like nothing more than an attempt to add depth to the two characters. I like it more when you don't notice the development. While I liked the method used to present this story, the substance left me wondering how these two characters became famous. They tell us how famous the pair (especially Flame) are, but never really show it. I enjoyed Flame & Citron enough to make a recommendation, but this film could have been much better. 6.5/10
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