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Flame and Citron

Blu-ray Three Stars
I had this film on my watch list for a long time, it's one of those that you know you should watch but you never quite get round to. That was a bad decision, or lack of decision, for it stars Mads Mikklesen in a story based on fact about two famous resistance fighters in Denmark during World War II and everything that had been said about it from people I trust was positive.

Flame and Citron is a really good film but remains one of these that you might just not get round to seeing or adding to your watch list because apart from Mikklesen it might not have the attraction from the blurb and might just pass you by, and that's wrong, I really need to stress that, the film is well worth seeing and so you should go and add it to your watch list, don't let it slip down, and above all watch it.

Plot.pngFlameandCitron.jpgFlame and Citron tells the story of two Danish men who begin to fight for their country to try and take it back from the occupying German army. Flame is an idealistic and angry young man who finds killing Nazi's easy while Citron is an embittered married father who barely sees his family and has turned to alcoholism and drugs to try and deal with the life he faces as a member of the resistance. When they began their fight they report to a man who claims to have direct contact with Britain and is receiving his, and their assassination orders directly from the anti-German war effort in Europe.

They soon attract the attention of the local Gestapo chief who raises their profile and sets about to capture them. Meanwhile Flame meets a double agent and becomes involved with her, and through that relationship and that of their enemy, both Flame and Citron realise that their war has not been as simple and clear cut as they had believed.

The story is based on the story of the real resistance fighters codenamed Flame and Citron and their experiences of fighting against the occupying army in Denmark.

TheFilm.pngQuite early on you can see how wonderfully the film has been shot with very well composed and framed shots from scene to scene. There's also been a careful look at the period costumes and sets, ensuring that the locations and actors look like they belong and to take your mind away from the fact that this is a film. After all there are many times you watch a period film and it feels a little too over dressed or that the period is becoming more of a focus in the film than other areas like a story, here this is not the case.

There's also a style to the costumes, there's a little swish and swoop to them, the best example being with Flame's costumes that, at times, seem more stylish and modern than those of the time, a tiny drop of Matrix seems to have dropped into his costume design to give a characteristic flow to his movements, and that works really well.

Each of the shots are clearly thought through and well composed and framed, and for that the film does look great. However there is a stylistic choice with a quick zoom that is used a little too often. Quite quickly it becomes obvious and intrudes on the story and the scene in question. A little obvious at points I do wish they'd calmed down the use of it, however it doesn't last too long and feels like something the director was trying out in some of the early shots, and overall the film is far superior to this one aspect.

The story does stand out as the best feature because everything is so grey and not clearly black and white with Nazi's being wholly evil by design and the resistance fighters on the side of all that is good and right. It is perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the film for it doesn't mind portraying the events, as they seem to have been in real life, in shades of grey with no one being labelled or the film taking moralistic views of any of the characters. While some of their behaviours may have been toned down, they aren't ignored or excused.

For instance Citron was an absent father, he drank and took drugs, Flame was somewhat of a sociopath and they were clearly wrong at times. Likewise there are a few moments with the Gestapo leader where you see the other side of the coin, one right at the end where he offers captured prisoners some unexpected dignity.

I really liked the story, and this aspect just made it so much better. Unlike so many other war films we see a more human side to these characters, we see their mistakes in what they do and who they trust, and this has dramatic effects on their lives and others around them.

The story also brings out some harsher realities of the war as well as what motivates people to fight for their beliefs. It also reveals some interesting truths about the story of the Danish resistance fighters and the occupation, events which are touched on more in the extras. It's amazing to realise that these two men's stories really happened.

Mads Mikklesen is typically strong in his role and you can feel the turmoil in him at times, when he has to assassinate someone instead of Flame doing the job, or when he's dealing with the issues of his wife and son. These moments, particularly the last scene with his family, are intense and moving and very well portrayed.

Thure Lindhardt, who plays Flame, also delivers his character well. He gave a strong performance to compliment Mikklesen and despite being alongside such a big name he took control of the screen well. He too is believable in his role, looks every bit the stylish assassin, but opens his character a number of times in the film and allows us to see something more.

The beautiful Stine Stengade is also vert good and provides a pivotal role for the film. She appears equally as tortured and uncertain, more so than the other characters, and together with her script manages to keep us confused and as uncertain as she is. She gives a fantastic performance that really seems as though the actress is all the way into the character.

With a strong sense of style through the production design, and some strong cinematography where a careful eye has been kept on the framing and lighting of each shot the film delivers a great looking picture. There's a slight grain, and it suits the film well, and it carries fantastic muted tones throughout.

Audio.pngDTS HD Master, DTS 5.1
There isn't a great deal of requirement for the home cinema speakers to be put to any test, and they didn't even feel that engaged. However this film is not really about the audio, it's about the story and the performances.

Extras.pngInterview with Mads Mikklesen; Interview with Thure Lindhardt; Interview with Ole Christian Madsen; A Nation Under Occupation
Interview with Mads Mikklesen
Some good questions are asked of the actor and he gives some interesting answers about playing Citron and the story the portray as well as some of the factual events in the film

Interview with Thure Lindhardt
Insightful interview with Thure Lindhardt talking about how he approached the character, the film, and some discussion of the real life person he portrays. He also talks about the filming and behind the scenes a little.

Interview with Ole Christian Madsen
Very interesting interview where the writer and director talks more about the war and resistance effort in Denmark as well as what happened to the people that the characters in the film are based on after the war.

A Nation Under Occupation
Unfortunately this is a mere six quarter-pages of write-up about the war in Denmark and the resistance efforts. I felt this deserved so much more, particularly as there seems to be a lot of footage and material available.

Overall.pngFlame and Citron is a powerful film that is well performed and filmed. There's plenty of style and great looking cinematography which keep the visuals strong, but the story is at the fore of the film. Not only is the story true but here in the film it has been pampered to or the glory of war poured over it. Characters are uncertain with good doing bad and bad doing good and all manner of uncertain motives.

Flame and Citron is a strong thriller which has all of the thriller elements and a great deal of historical reality to it. Stylish, good looking and well written, it's worthwhile getting a hold of it and while the Blu-ray could have had more on the extras front, particularly about the war, it is still a great viewing.

UK IMDB Film Details
Buy or rent Flame and Citron from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com



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