Flame & Citron
I’m still not sure this is an indoor gun …

Theatrical Release Date: 09/18/2009
Director: Ole Christian Madsen
Cast: Thure Lindhardt, Mads Mikkelsen, Stine Stengade, Peter Mygind, Mille Hoffmeyer Lehfeldt, Christian Berkel, Hanns Zischler

If there’s a constant in films every year, it’s that someone’s bound to make a film about World War II. We’ve all seen film after film after film regarding the Nazi’s efforts and I’m of the mind that if you’ve seen enough of them, you should receive college history credits.

One thing I’m very happy about regarding the genre is that filmmakers have seemed to move on (at least a little bit) from the concentration camp stories, which while important, are all heart wrenching and filled with gloom, towards resistance films and insights into the mindset of Germans (both for and against Hitler).

Films like “Before the Fall“, “Defiance“, “Valkyrie” and “Black Book” all explore stories maybe not so well known and help to broaden the scope of the conflict.

In “Flame & Citron”, the story centers on the two men whose nicknames make up the title – members of the Danish underground resistance set on eliminating traitors who have joined with the Nazi war effort. There’s a moral conviction within each that allows them to cold-heartedly murder people, for after all, this is war and they’re eliminating only those who have betrayed their fellow countrymen, right?

Well, that issue comes into play and what follows is an examination of how each of the pair are able to rectify killing within the psychological confines of the war-addled mind.

Playing the title characters, Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelson deliver excellent performances and sufficiently blur the line between justice and murder. Each sacrifice their personal lives in order to fulfill their orders, putting the job at hand over anything else. This inner conflict drives much of the film and provides an interesting counterpoint to the violence on display.

If there are weak points to the film, they come from the script and the director. While the story is fascinating, there are enough sub plots on hand to make condensing it all into the two hour runtime difficult and there often appear to be jumps in the story in order to expedite the film. Maybe another thirty minutes would have allowed for proper examination of everyone involved.

However, adding that time would only have compounded director Ole Christian Madsen’s problem with pacing. As interesting as the story is and as good the performances are, I still found it difficult (on a late morning screening) to maintain full consciousness. I never quite drifted off to sleep but I was quite close a number of times.

Still, the production value is excellent and the good elements outweigh the few negative aspects. If you’re a WWII buff like myself, this is definitely worth checking out, only you might be better off waiting for the DVD. I can only hope that filmmakers continue to explore stories about other parts of the conflict and bestow “Flame & Citron” a 3 out of 5.