Flame & Citron (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Mar 3 2009Marshalling a larger budget and cast than he had for his earlier TV and Dogme-style projects, Danish director Ole Christian Madsen tackles a more traditional World War II resistance thriller with seductive, gently modernising, often compelling results. It’s set in 1944 in Copenhagen, where two underground ‘partisans’, unshaven, married Jørgen (Mads ‘Le Chiffre’ Mikkelsen) and younger, more charismatic Bent (Thure Lindhardt) – codenamed Citron and Flame, and based on real people – have already achieved heroic status for smuggling British pilots by night and assassinating Nazis by day.
But as the year progresses, the personal cost to the pair escalates. The contradictory orders of their British and government-in-exile commanders, the killing of unintended victims and their inability to discern friend from foe among colleagues and superiors all force the pair to question their motives for such personal sacrifice.
It’s episodic and lengthy, but on the whole this is a well-sustained and surprisingly understated drama. Notable is the extent to which the director achieves a sense of psychological complexity – and a pervasive atmosphere of fear and confusion – without sacrificing the rhythm and dramatic tension necessary to a war film. He’s aided no end by unfussy, well-mounted action sequences and his cinematographer Jørgen Johansson’s nice compromise between atmospheric, noir-esque period evocation and modern widescreen stylings, with excellent use of low-key lighting, silhouettes and location. Credible cameos, too, from such as Hanns Zischler and Christian Berkel (as a Wehrmacht and a Gestapo officer) alongside the excellent, contained performances of the leads help lift this film out of the ordinary.
Author: Wally Hammond