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Originally published December 17, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Page modified December 17, 2009 at 3:01 PM

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Movie review

'Flame & Citron': Flawed resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Denmark

"Flame & Citron" is an engrossing Danish production based on the true story of two resistance fighters (deftly played by Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelsen) in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3.5 stars

'Flame & Citron,' with Thure Lindhardt, Mads Mikkelsen, Peter Mygind, Stine Stengade. Directed by Ole Christian Madsen, from a screenplay by Madsen and Lars K. Andersen. 130 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence, rough language). In Danish and German, with English subtitles. Varsity; see Page 17.

World War II movies about the European Resistance cover a wide range, from the romantic ("Casablanca") to the outrageous ("Inglourious Basterds") to the tragic ("Army of Shadows").

An engrossing new Danish production, "Flame & Citron," touches all of those bases as it winds its way through a tricky, fact-based plot that's sometimes reminiscent of film noir. At the center is a bewitching femme fatale whose allegiances and motives are less than clear.

Flame (red-haired Thure Lindhardt) is a young and passionate resistance fighter who has become an enthusiastic killer of Nazi collaborators. Citron (Mads Mikkelsen) is his older, alcoholic partner, who has a much more difficult time with executions. When their leader, Winther (Peter Mygind), barks orders at them, they bark back.

Complicating matters considerably is an infatuation between Flame and the enigmatic Ketty (Stine Stengade), who identifies herself as a fashion designer and photographer. But she also appears to be part of the Resistance. The more Flame learns about her — she somehow knows his name — the less certain he feels.

Beginning with newsreels of the Germans invading Copenhagen, accompanied by a voice-over questioning "Do you remember when they arrived?," the script often seems driven by a nationalistic fervor. At the same time, it's suggested that such partisan emotions can be a way of showing off.

The heroes of this Resistance turn out to be very flawed people; the same could be said of their targets. Flame points his gun at the head of a presumed traitor several times during the film, but each time we're less convinced that he's justified in pulling the trigger.

The most expensive Danish production to date ($9 million), "Flame & Citron" includes a few familiar faces. Mikkelsen played the villain in "Casino Royale," and Lindhardt had a role in "Angels & Demons." They succeed in creating a team that's as deadly as it is dysfunctional.

The director and co-writer, Olie Christina Madsen, makes frequent use of newsreels (the invasion footage is heartbreaking) and street scenes that are ingeniously photographed to suggest scale rather than show it. It's a big movie, but it's never overblown.

John Hartl:

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