a compelling tale of gay love set within neo-Nazi ranks.
Don't let the bigoted backdrop of this powerful piece put you off, given this is, at heart, a compelling tale of gay love.
Not that military man Lars expected to find himself in that position when rumours of sexual misconduct saw his hopes for promotion within the ranks, do an abrupt about-turn. Embracing his friends for comfort, he finds himself instead making the acquaintance of a neo-Nazi group, along the way becoming their newfound shining star, much to the outrage of his liberal minded mother. Staying with his mentor Jimmy as a result, the two over time and over one too many beers, become more than just blood brothers in the middle of the night. Only when surrounded by those who get high on gay bashing, just how long can they keep their relationship a secret?
In a work in which homophobic and racist views are as integral to the plot, as are acts of sickening violence, co-writer and director Nicolo Donato has delivered a gripping homage to same-sex love. For here he has skillfully mixed dark deeds with some surprisingly tender moments, having gradually built up to the central gay relationship, knowing full well that once acts of man sex hit the screen, the brutal consequences of such are not going to remain in the closet for long. That Thure (Love in Thoughts) Lindhardt and David Dencik as lover boys Lars and Jimmy give added poignancy to their heart-wrenching roles, result in scenes that wonderfully convey their initial, almost laconic reactions to each other, through to friendship and finally to the heights of passion and devotion.
Well-executed throughout and complete with brief frontal nudity and man-on-man styled wrestling, it is the story that as ever takes centre stage, one that sees Donato take, alongside co-writer Rasmus Birch, time out to illustrate the sexual hypocrisy of a group of men who whilst repulsed by anything gay, are only too happy to stand naked side-by-side each other, practically grope their comrades whilst dancing and sit uncomfortably through a lecture by Lars on the homosexuality of Nazi SA commander Ernst Röhm. Sure there are narrative weaknesses, not least being the reasoning as to why a closeted gay man would get involved with a brotherhood of thuggish and in Jimmy's brother's case, drug addicted neo-Nazis and yes, the political ideology of the piece makes for a disturbing film that clearly is not going to be to everyone's cinematic taste. But that said, there is no denying the emotional intensity of these boys in love. Engaging, hard-hitting and an all too graphic reminder of those who in giving in to the sexual calling of their heart, knowingly put at risk their very life. Need more be said?
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.
starring: Thure Lindhardt / Lars, David Dencik / Jimmy, Nicolas Bro / Tykke, Morten Holst / Patrick, with
Hanne Hedelund / mother, Lars Simonsen / father, Anders Heinrichsen / Lasse, Jon Lange / Bo,
Lena Bjørn / Sygeplejerske, Claus Flygare / Ebbe, Signe Egholm Olsen / Karina,
Martin Metz / Jonas, Johannes Lassen / Kenneth, Michael Grønnemose /
Laust, Mads Rømer / Kim and Peter Plaugborg as The Sergeant.