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Monday, August 16, 2010

FLAMMEN OG CITRONEN / FLAME AND CITRON (2008)

The legend of this fact-based WWII saga begins when Danish resistance fighter Bent Faurschou-Hviid attempts to dye his hair blond as a disguise. But he and his partner, Jergen Haagen Schmith, didn’t know how the goop would react to Bent’s hair. It washed out red! And with that crop of flaming red hair, Flammen got his name and became the best known (and certainly the most visible) Nazi hunter in Copenhagen. What a great opening sequence! Unfortunately, though it’s as true as anything else in here, it’s not in the film. Instead we open with a mournful voice-over to accompany standard archival shots of Nazis marching into Denmark. That's the start of this perfectly decent WWII historical where helmer Ole Christian Madsen consistently opts for the conventional. Perhaps the large budget & big, handsome production scared him into making safe choices. A pity since the basic story elements should add up to a lot more. Flammen & Citronen were a highly efficient team (assassin & driver) who began to question their handlers as internecine battles started to break out in the Dutch resistance and innocent people began showing up on hit lists. Lovers, family, fellow conspirators: their grim moral netherworld is going topsy-turvy. Whom do you trust? Whom can you trust? As Flammen, Thure Lindhardt is a compelling physical presence and Mads Mikkelsen’s Citron naughtily accentuates his faint resemblance to Gregory Peck by wearing the same tortoiseshell glasses Peck wore in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD/’62. But as recent WWII pics go, this one could have used some of the brio Quentin Tarantino brought to INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. (Then again, Q.T. could have used this thrilling storyline in place of his snarky shaggy dog tale.)

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