(Your faithful blogger is taking some R&R this week. I am microblogging at @joesview while I’m gone. See you June 27.)
The Danish thriller/historical drama, “Flame & Citron,” didn’t get many theatrical bookings in this country, so you may not have heard of it.
The movie deserves a spot near the top of your Netflix queue.
Writer-director Ole Christian Madsen tells the true story of two legendary resistance fighters in Denmark during World War II — Flammen (Thure Lindhardt, above) and Citronen (Mads Mikkelsen).
The two men are basically contract killers, but for a good cause — foiling the Nazi occupation in their country through a series of assassinations of Danes who have collaborated with the Germans.
The younger Flammen wants to kill Hoffman (Christian Berkel, below left), the head of Gestapo in Denmark.
Like Steven Spielberg in his superb espionage drama, “Munich,” Madsen seems to be as much interested in the emotional toll of spying on the individuals who do it as he is in the political impact of this vital work.
Flammen and Citronen are shaken when they are told that some of the people they’ve killed might not actually have betrayed Denmark — they were following orders, but were the men who issued the orders wrong?
The key question raised by the move is: What happens if you stop to think about wartime killing before you pull the trigger? Does it render you useless to the cause?
Madsen was very fortunate to get two of the finest Scandinavian actors for his film. Mikkelsen and Lindhardt are both chameleon-actors who seem to change their personas as well as their physical appearances for every role.
In this film, the actors mine every conceivable emotion from an incredibly complex moral and emotional dilemma: Is a form of soul death inevitable in the sort of pretense and violence necessary for Flammen and Citronen to do their work?
The tension increases as Flammen falls for Ketty Selmer (Stine Stengade) who may be a double (or even triple) agent.
The spy partners begin to lose their bearings when it seems likely that their supervisor could have a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with foiling the Nazis in Denmark.
“Flame & Citron” is a terrific picture that deserves to be discovered on DVD in this country.