The activities of the French resistance during the Second World War have been a staple of both big and small screen for decades now, such that the underground fighting that must have occurred in other European countries may not have achieved equivalent prominence. Seeking to redress that concern, Flame & Citron tells the story of two members of the Holger Danske resistance group in Denmark – Bent Faurschou-Hviid (Flame, played by Thure Lindhardt) and Jørgen Haagen Schmith (Citron, played by Mads Mikkelsen).
As resistance fighters, Flame and Citron are almost without equal – they happily assassinate the enemies of the mother Denmark, upon the orders of the relatively mysterious Winther (Peter Mygind). When Flame meets the elusive Ketty Selmer (Stine Stengade), however, his alliance with the more experienced Citron will come under pressure, as a combination of doubt and double-dealing makes them vulnerable to counter-attack by the Gestapo.
Flame & Citron is intriguing in the way that any good biopic should be – it makes one want to learn more of the characters and events portrayed, while encouraging one to wonder as to the accuracy of that portrayal. In this regard, it succeeds in raising the profile of these Danish heroes while remaining an entertaining film in its own right.
There are problems with the film, however, with the exploration of double-agency and double-crossing in the middle becoming tedious and detracting from the momentum generated in the first sequences. The hidden motives and unneccessary convolution actually become trying for the audience, as they attempt to keep up. Perhaps focussing more tightly on the relationship between the two men – rather than the political intrigue among the greater resistance – may have allowed this momentum to be retained.
The same complaint can be applied to the pacing in general, with the film being allowed to blow out to a 130-minute running time that is simply unneccessary. Audiences will differ in the length of films they will tolerate or prefer, but one wonders how many would appreciate a marginally briefer experience with Flame & Citron.
The performances are strong, with Lindhardt standing out among his colleagues as the red-headed Flame. Given a little more to work with than Mikkelsen with Citron, Lindhardt is excellent as the conflicted assassin. Mikkelsen turns in a more understated performance, although he generates fire within particular scenes as another reminder of his skill and craft.
Although it waivers in its midsection, Flame & Citron achieves its aim of alerting the world to the remarkable work of the Danish resistance during German occupation in the Second World War. An entertaining and enjoyable film, it can be comfortably recommended.Rating: