TELLURIDE FILM FEST
Telluride Review: Ole Christian Madsen's Flame and Citron
by Alex Billington
August 30, 2008
My second film of Telluride and it's a delightful surprise. Flame & Citron is a film from Danish director Ole Christian Madsen starring Mads Mikkelsen and Thure Lindhardt. Tinged with noir and unlike anything I've seen before, the film is a WWII drama about two resistance fighters, nicknamed Flame and Citron, whose job it is to drive around Denmark and kill German officers and other individuals who are helping the Germans. It is undoubtedly a very powerful and very well-made film, but there are some amateur aspects that detract from the the overall quality, including some cinematography choices and its excruciating length. However, it's still a fine film and fantastic achievement for Madsen and his two stars.
While Mads Mikkelsen (who you may remember from Casino Royale) does a fantastic job as Citron, it’s his counterpart, Flame, played by redheaded Danish actor Thure Lindhardt, that really carries the film. His consistency and depth was what brought this up from its amateur depths and into the spotlight. The two battle with inner emotions in addition to gun fights in a riveting story that I'm sure most Americans have never heard of. The two become national heroes fighting for their homeland until the allure of women disrupts the flow, as is often the case in almost any war story. Another Danish actress, Stine Stengade, takes on the role of the pivotal Ketty and also lives up to the deceptive levels of her character.
I do commend Madsen for his directorial work, as it was better than most independent war films, but it really needs to be trimmed down and tightened up. There were numerous scenes that reminded me of The Untouchables with their sheer beauty in violence and composition. It's hard to critique the more finer elements of this when I enjoyed it's combination of noir and war storytelling, but the clear issue was length. I was definitely surprised walking out by how much I enjoyed this and how different it was from any other WWII film I'd seen, which is more of a compliment than anything. I think it's safe to say that this could be a big Oscar contender for Denmark, but I'm not sure it's the strongest Danish film to date.
Telluride Rating: 7 out of 10