Thursday, 8 March 2018

Alternate Best Actor 2008: Mads Mikkelsen in Flame & Citron

Mads Mikkelsen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jørgen Haagen Schmith aka "Citron" in Flame & Citron.

Flame & Citron is a fairly effective historical thriller about two resistance fighters in Nazi occupied Denmark.

The film follows the titular men the first being the red haired "flame" Bent Faurschou Hviid (Thure Lindhardt) who specializes in assassinations meanwhile we also have Mikkelsen as Jørgen Haagen Schmith aka "Citron"who originally acts as his driver. The film focuses just a bit more on Hviid than it does Schmith though both men lead the story. This leaves though Schmith to make his impact in the story in somewhat brief scenes and often times in the margins of them. Thankfully this is helped by having Mads Mikkelsen in the role who is effortlessly captivating as always. Mikkelsen's strengths as an actor though are pivotal to the realization of Schmith in this film and his whole journey which while secondary in screentime is as important in the scheme of the film. That is in the opening of the film Schmith hasn't actually killed rather he has been an accomplice to Hviid's assassinations of Danish collaborators, and we only see his reactions during the act or afterwards. Mikkelsen is terrific in absorbing the emotion essentially by portraying this quiet distress in the man that realizes his internalized struggle even as the film does not focus upon it. Mikkelsen is able to convey the man who attempts to hide this state, as he also hides his acts as a resistance member, by creating this innate intensity into his work that effectively shows not only the man's own moral strife, but also the state found through his life in the shadows essentially.

Eventually Schmith is called upon to kill someone himself an act that he initially fails in the first time, and Mikkelsen conveys that devastation of the moment in his pained eyes. Mikkelsen though doesn't portray this as a rejection of the idea itself rather there is a combined fear of in part indecisiveness in himself, but also fear of taking that step that cannot be backtracked. After Schmith does kill Mikkelsen again is great in portraying this change in Schmith, largely again through reactions however he never seems vague. What again Mikkelsen does so well is change the expression of emotion, which is just as intense as ever as to be expected from Mikkelsen, however it is no longer of the very same nature. Mikkelsen instead chances his depiction to show the embracing of this emotion in an interesting way. Mikkelsen makes it as raw as it was before yet now he no longer portrays this cowering fear within these moments, but instead conveys a much stronger determination just through his physical presence that was initially retiring. Mikkelsen creates this sort of strength within the growing darkness the man is capable of as he goes about the killing. The killing which Mikkelsen does not grant a hint of sadism but rather as this expression of hatred. A very notable type of hatred though as Mikkelsen always portrays this with a certain anguish, not for the men he's going to kill, but rather in terms of the existence they have enforced upon him.

Again Mikkelsen is not always focused upon in any given scene however he is always captivating even when he is just a part of a scene. That is through how effectively he portrays the seething emotion that is a constant in Schmith. Unlike some of the other resistance members Schmith is in no way compromised in his motivations for the killings, in turn Mikkelsen makes this state of the man distinct in every scene. As in every interaction with those with a different tone in regards to their activities Mikkelsen presents so well the blunt attitude of the man set now into his life in the darkness and in that conveys the real wear of this idea. Mikkelsen shows essentially a man always ready to break down as he is able to embody this man who has allowed so much sadness within himself to the point it is the only thing that keeps him moving forward. There are a few scenes that are directly from Schmith's viewpoint which usually have to do with the man and his wife. Mikkelsen is great in these scenes by showing the man not at all at peace even when in the embrace of the family. He does express a definite warmth yet he funnels through that despondency that makes up the man's state of mind. In these scenes Mikkelsen is incredible in the way he offers this conditioned tenderness that unfortunately is almost this disturbing act that he depicts as a man reaching out for comfort yet doing it with such desperation it is hard to see the love within it. Mikkelsen carefully in these scenes shows that Schmith never escapes the demons in his mind but is rather all the more plagued by them as he has no way to exorcise them, ever briefly, through the killing.

A central conflict within the film though comes within the men going about their killing but only with so much information to determine those who are guilty and those who are not. In a moment where Hviid mentions they might have killed innocent people Mikkelsen is heartbreaking in his delivery of the most vulnerable Schmith who tries to silence the discussion. As he says essentially they have killed no one innocent, Mikkelsen is remarkable in creating that distress in every word and in his face of a man who needs to hide the truth lest it destroy his already nearly unbearable existence. Mikkelsen powerfully finds this conflict within his portrayal of Schmith particularly in the later scenes of the film such as one where they accidentally shoot a German child. There are few words left to the scene yet Mikkelsen honestly does not need them as his reaction of such subtle yet palatable horror of a man whose already seen so much sadly reveals the harrowing state of the man. A state that even while such an act clearly does effect him Mikkelsen shows that it is more subdued than it would be for most since it is within this life of the man filled with death. Mikkelsen is especially affecting then in his one scene where he does seem to go one step further in revealing the man finding just a hint of solace in a very strange way. Schmith does this as he recovers from a wound in a close call remarking that he feels he must go to prison even after the war. In this moment Mikkelsen finds the only bit of comfort in the warmth he finally does more calmly express yet brilliantly twists it as it is in the moment where the man state his wish to be punished for his killings. Unsurprisingly this is a striking turn by Mikkelsen in creating such moving portrait of a man fighting for a good cause, yet still wrecked by the evil he must do to pursue it.

44 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the rest of the cast.

1. Van Damme
2. Song
3. Mikkelsen
4. Rockwell
5. Krisch

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your top 5 Mikkelsen turns.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your thoughts on this The Pillowman cast?

Katurian: Robert Pattinson
Michal: Rupert Friend
Tupolski: Paddy Considine
Ariel: Dave Bautista

Michael McCarthy said...

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor
3. Josh Brolin
4. Vincent Cassel
5. Kim Yun-seok

1. Jean-Claude Van Damme
2. Song Kang-ho
3. Sam Rockwell
4. Johannes Krisch
5. Mads Mikkelsen

For the bottom set, I could honestly put the top 4 in any order.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: I don’t know if you’ve seen Honeland, but I feel like Friend’s performance as Michal would be similar to his work in the most recent season of Homeland, which unfortunately is not a good thing. I personally would switch the two, as Pattinson did a good job in a comparable role in The Rover, although I do think he would be an intriguing choice for Katurian as well.

Incidentally, I auditioned for the role of Michal in a local production of The Pillowman a couple months ago.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast and director for:
Allied (1940's version)
Unbroken (1960's version)
X-Men (1990's version)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Apparently in the early 80's, Cagney was supposed to star as Bat Masterson in a film called The Eagles of Broadway alongside William Hurt. Thoughts on this project that was never made?

Luke Higham said...

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor
3. Josh Brolin
4. Vincent Cassel
5. Kim Yun-seok

1. Jean-Claude Van Damme
2. Song Kang-ho
3. Sam Rockwell
4. Johannes Krisch
5. Mads Mikkelsen

Calvin Law said...

Michael: I haven't but if that's so a switcheroo would be more than fine. How did the audition go?

Lezlie said...

1. Van Damme
2. Song
3. Rockwell
4. Krisch
5. Mikkelsen

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast and director for:

A 70s The Wrestler, a 2000s and a 2010s A Place in the Sun and a 60s The Drop.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: It was okay. At the beginning the director told me not to do it in an Irish dialect, which kind of hindered my readings to be honest. I don’t think McDonagh’s wit translates as well in American dialects (except in his works set in America obviously).

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Tom Hooper directing an 8 part series adaptation of His Dark Materials starring Dafne Keen. I hope Hooper will get back to his best again with a return to television.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor
3. Josh Brolin
4. Vincent Cassel
5. Kim Yun-seok

1. Jean-Claude Van Damme
2. Song Kang-ho
3. Sam Rockwell
4. Mads Mikkelsen
5. Johannes Krisch

Omar Franini said...

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
2. Chiwetel Ejiofor
3. Josh Brolin
4. Vincent Cassel
5. Kim Yun-seok

1. Jean-Claude Van Damme
2. Song Kang-ho
3. Sam Rockwell
4. Mads Mikkelsen
5. Johannes Krisch

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Lindhardt - 4.5(His performance works very well particularly in a contrast to Mikkelsen's which is more overtly emotional than Lindhardt's approach which is to show a man far more comfortable in his state. Lindhardt doesn't use this as an excuse though to make Hviid at any point bland comparison. He instead finds something rather compelling the man who has become mostly comfortable. What's notable is the emotion he does bring ever so subtle in these moments that is just hint of it below the surface which stands so effectively against Mikkelsen's more searing style. Lindhardt's performance works well though as perhaps the man more comfortable in the life of espionage in his portrayal in these scenes of mostly a strict control. He plays well with those moments of variation whether it be in the killing of potential innocents, or in his relationship with Stengade's Ketty. Lindhardt never breaks the fashioned surface of the character, but so effectively gives glimpses of what lies beneath it.)

Stengade - 4.5(She's quite good in playing the role in a way in that you never quite can completely get a read on her though it often feels as you should. She's very effective actually though by creating the sense of the way of her certain duplicitous nature which you never learn the whole truth from. Stengade does well to never give it up nor is she vague though in the realization of the character. In that she shows someone who always seems to present the most earnest and honest emotion yet you never know if this is an act, or a misused truth. Stengade plays this incredibly well by taking you in as she does Hviid to the point, even as it seems she must be guilty, you cannot be sure of her exact nature still. She importantly does not portray this as sociopathic but rather of someone who has come to terms with their way of survival.)

Berkel - 3.5(He's good in creating the sense of a fairly pragmatic villain within the film where he wears the appropriate natural menace but grants a straight forward manner to the character who despite the head of the secret police is rather straight forward in his methods.)

Zischler - 3.5(He's pretty affecting in his one scene by playing his one singular plea in such a moving way by not showing it as begging but rather as an earnest explanation towards the true motives of the man.)

Well I haven't read the books however it is probably best for Hooper to go back to where he excelled most. In addition I'll be glad to see Keen in another prominent role.

Calvin:

Yeah don't know about Friend, though he should play Pattinson's brother in something I suppose, Pattinson, Bautista and Considine are perfect choices though.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Allied 1940's directed by Michael Powell:

Max Vatan: Fredric March
Marianne Beausejour: Simone Simon
Col. Heslop: Roger Livesey
Captain Sangster: Richard Attenborough
Emmanuel Lombard: Claude Rains
Hobar: Conrad Veidt

Unbroken 1960's directed by John Sturges:

Louie Zamperini: Steve McQueen
Phil Phillips: Stephen Boyd
The Bird: Tatsuya Nakadai

X-Men 90's directed by Luc Besson:

Prof. X: Patrick Stewart (Still the right choice)
Logan: Viggo Mortensen
Magneto: Max von Sydow
Storm: Lynn Whitfield
Jean Grey: Ellen Barkin
Cyclops: Eric Stoltz
Sen. Kelly: John Saxon
Mystique: Monica Bellucci
Rogue: Milla Jovovich

Anonymous:

Well can't say too much without knowing who would've been the writer and director. That would have been an interesting pairing and one would've hoped it would have been a better use of Cagney than in Ragtime where he basically just has an expository role.

Anonymous:

The Wrestler 1970's directed by John Huston:

Randy "The Ram" Robinson: Charles Bronson
Pam: Lee Remick
Stephanie: Melanie Griffith
Wayne: Murray Hamilton

A Place in the Sun 2000's Directed by Todd Field:

George: Edward Norton
Angela: Kirsten Dunst
Alice: Mia Kirshner

A Place in the Sun 2010's Directed by Bennett Miller:

George: Jake Gyllenhaal
Angela: Margot Robbie
Alice: Melanie Lynskey

The Drop 1960's directed by Richard Brooks:

Bob: Rod Steiger
Nadia: Carroll Baker
Marv: Lee J. Cobb
Eric Deeds: Warren Oates

Michael McCarthy said...

What are people hoping for in terms of rating changes for 2008? I'd like to see an upgrade for Van Damme and wouldn't mind one for Renner, but more than that I'd actually want to see Fassbender downgraded. Not that he was bad or anything, just because no matter how many times I watch Hunger, it doesn't do a thing for me outside of the one scene between Fassbender and Liam Cunningham.

Calvin Law said...

Agreed on Renner. Switching Jenkins and Eastwood's positions probably.

Also I know Louis avoids ties but I do honestly think Gleeson and Farrell deserve to be joint first places.

Luke Higham said...

I don't see him going down at all. It's Louis' favourite performance from him.

Luke Higham said...

I do think Van Damme's going up and I'm hopeful for Renner.

Calvin: I agree with you on Gleeson and Farrell.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Is it too foolish of me to hope Louis reevaluates Penn in Milk? Because I think his performance aged shockingly well, and honestly might be my win.

Calvin Law said...

Just some 2008 films for fun.

In Bruges 1960s directed by Sidney Lumet
Ray: Richard Harris
Ken: Michael Redgrave
Harry: Alec Guinness

1960s Taken starring Trevor Howard

John Smith said...

Louis, your top 10 Danny Devito moments in IASIP.

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: I'd probably be satisfied even if he just moves down a place below Rourke, that performance is about 5x more affecting for me.

RatedRStar said...

1. Van Damme
2. Song
3. Rockwell
4. Krisch
5. Mikkelsen

Robert MacFarlane said...

Really hoping Rockwell gets a 5.

Bryan L said...

Calvin: Sounds like a great cast to me. Btw I was going through some recent blog posts and noticed your Blade Runner: 2049 cast for the 70s. I like Al Pacino as Agent K since he excels at internalized performances (obviously) but do you think Christopher Walken would be also be great as Agent K?

Calvin Law said...

Walken would be a great choice too.

Michael McCarthy said...

Robert: I'm hoping everyone left in that lineup gets a 5.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I just saw Wrinkle in Time. Sadly, it’s a misfire. Full marks for ambition and emotional sincerity, but it’s too rushed and awkwardly executed to work.

Matt Montada said...

Your Top 10 Favorite Actors

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the voices of Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons, Kathleen Byron and Michael Ironside.

Anonymous said...

Louis: While he wasn't considered for the part and was maybe a little too old, how do you think Robinson would have fared as Genghis Khan?

JackiBoyz said...

1. Van Damme
2. Rockwell
3. Song
4. Krisch
5. Mikkelsen

Anonymous said...

Louis: If The Master was made in the 2000s, how do you think Heath Ledger would have fared as Freddie Quell?

Also, past film roles for Gyllenhaal?

John Smith said...

1. Van Damme
2. Song
3. Rockwell
4. Mikkelsen
5. Krish

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top ten directing moments from Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa and David Lean.

Also, did you prefer Mikkelsen or Lindhardt's turn in this film.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I think he preferred Mikkelsen.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on Barry Keoghan in Dunkirk?

Louis Morgan said...

John Smith:

1. Troll Toll
2. "I'm the Trashman"
3. They drew FIRST BLOOD
4. Die Hard Reenactment
5. Return of the "Penguin"
6. Boat ride recap
7. The YELLOWJACKETS
8. Scraps
9. Gun Panic
10. How to Weight lift

Matt:

Listed my top twenty here:

http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2018/02/alternate-best-actor-2017-harry-dean.html

Anonymous:

Barbeau - (It's funny in that in her live action appearances, that I've seen, her voice doesn't stand out too much. When only her voice though it is very distinctive in classic sultry sort of way.)

Janet Leigh - (Really a rather perfection blend in that her voice isn't quite husky yet it just has this slight bit of hardness that just is something rather special.)

Vivien Leigh - (Funny as in her two most famous roles she is not using her native accent. Her southern accent is great in both of those films even as they differ. Her native accent though is one of sheer beauty, and such elegant refinement.)

Simmons - (Her voice is kind of the earthly Audrey Hepburn in a way. In that she sounds similair except her voice seems more of this world, though still so very wonderful.)

Byron - (Kind of the just right kind of English demure in her voice. In that her voice isn't quite ice cold but it's certainly not warm. It's incredibly distinctive and quite striking in any regard.)

Ironside - (His voice is one of the all time greats, and a bit underused to be honest. It's one of those voices that just exudes such a natural command, menace, and this almost inherent darkness.)

Anonymous:

I believe I've done Gyllenhaal before.

Ledger would've been too young to play Quell.

Anonymous:

I would not have wished that upon him. No one could have saved that role not even a genuine Mongol. Wayne's casting is merely one of many problems in that film.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Hitchcock:

1. The Shower - Psycho
2. The Bell Tower - Vertigo
3. Bruno stalks Miriam - Strangers on a Train
4. Thorwald notices Jeff - Rear Window
5. Crop duster - North By Northwest
6. Madeleine reborn - Vertigo
7. After the party - Rebecca
8. Ending - Notorious
9. Starting the car - The Birds
10. Arbogast investigates the Bates Mansion - Psycho

Kurosawa:

1. Destruction of the Third Castle - Ran
2. "Gondola no Uta" in the snow - Ikiru
3. Final battle - Seven Samurai
4. The Samurai's Story - Rashomon
5. Drug Deal - High and Low
6. Arrows - Throne of Blood
7. Final duel - Yojimbo
8. Ending - Ran
9. Doppelganger - Kagemusha
10. "Gondola no Uta" the first time - Ikiru

Lean:

1. "Madness Madness" - The Bridge on the River Kwai
2. Sherif Ali's entrance - Lawrence of Arabia
3. The Train - Brief Encounter
4. Nicholson victorious - The Bridge on the River Kwai
5. "No Prisoners" - Lawrence of Arabia
6. Train attack - Lawrence of Arabia
7. Initial meeting - Brief Encounter
8. Coughing torture - Lawrence of Arabia
9. Killing the Japanese Soldiers - The Bridge on the River Kwai
10. Lost in the desert - Lawrence of Arabia

Mikkelsen ever so slightly, they're really on an even keel.

Calvin:

Keoghan - (Well if one takes both roles of his 2017 mainstream breakout one can see a notable range there actually though of a similair type in that both are as these "boys" in terms of the certain naivety associated with the character. Where that was taken to extreme creepiness by him in Sacred Deer, a performance that I still think would have been far more effective if the other performances had contrasted his more, against here where he gives a completely earnest depiction of that instead. Keoghan is incredibly moving by showing that all that George does is just of a honest goodness in the character that he makes appropriately genuine and in the end rather heartbreaking. He does not make George at all cloying, even when his lines are fairly straight forward questions, instead he effectively realizes just this truly wet behind the ear boy being sent into hell and what happens from that. He doesn't change but rather the contrast of that earnestness against the harrowing situation is what makes his work so moving particularly in the way he so simply and somberly delivers George's regret.)

Bryan L said...

Anonymous: Yes, he indeed gave his past film roles for Gyllenhaal.

Sidney Falco (Sweet Smell of Success)
Hazel Motes (Wise Blood)
Nick Chevotarevich (The Deer Hunter, which he'd perfect for in a modern version.)

Robert MacFarlane said...

Just saw Thoroughbreds, and holy shit it is great.