Flame & Citron: Morally Complex WWII Saga

There are still interesting stories to be told about World War II.  Ole Christian Madsen's WWII thriller “Flame & Citron, was a commercial hit in Denmark and played at the 2008 Telluride and Toronto film festivals, where it was well-received. 

 

The Danish movie opened on July 31 in N.Y. and will bow August 14 in L.A., with a national release to follow. It's also be available nationwide on IFC Films’ video on demand (VOD) platform.

 

Set in Copenhagen in 1944, during the country's occupation by Nazi forces, the tale centers on Resistance fighters Flame (Thure Lindhardt) and Citron (Mads Mikkelsen), who work undercover for the Holger Danske group, committing acts of sabotage and assassinating Danish informers.

 

Unified in their hatred of enemies of freedom, the younger and more idealistic Flame dreams of openly taking up arms against the occupying power—including local Gestapo leader Hoffmann (Christian Berkel)—whereas the more sensitive and mature Citron finds himself drawn further into the politics of resistance. 

 

Friends and associates prior to the occupation, Flame and Citron's fearless acts soon result in their notoriety. But when Flame is commanded to eliminate his girlfriend Ketty (Stine Stengade), a mysterious courier, he and Citron experience a moral crisis and begin to question who their real enemies are, and where their real sympathies lie.

 

Inspired by Jean-Pierre Melville’s superlative resistance picture “Army of Shadows” (which has been recently restored and released theatrically in the U.S. for the first time), and based on a true story of two legendary Danish patriots, “Flame & Citron” offers a morally complex tale of occupation and resistance, in which there are no simple heroes or villains, and no simples answers.

 

The acting of the two leads, Thure Lindhardt (who was in Sean Penn's “Into the Wild”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“After the Wedding” and the villain in “Casino Royale”) is impressive, contributing to a dramatically and emotionally touching saga whose details are not as well-known (or as well-documented) in the U.S as other WWII stories.