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Former Danish servicemen Lars and Jimmy are thrown together while training in a neo-Nazi group. Moving from hostility through grudging admiration to friendship and finally passion, events take a darker turn when their illicit relationship is uncovered. Written by
As soon as a movie starts, I start thinking about how I'm going to review it. For the first 40 minutes, I thought I was going to throw this movie in the gutter where it belonged when I reviewed it, because for all that time there's practically nothing but revolting Nazi crap. It's very, very hard to sit through. The first scene is the violent beating of a cruising gay man by a skinhead who had come on to him and told him how beautiful he was before calling out his gang to beat and kick the guy to a pulp (an incident that re-enters the story significantly near the end).
After that are long scenes of the ugly Nazis (the men are physically as well as morally ugly) spewing their toxic garbage into my ears where it was not welcome. But then... ah, then... at about the 41-minute mark, Lars and Jimmy start looking at each other in a new way, and EVERYTHING changes. The first 40 minutes of hateful garbage are well worth suffering through to get to that exquisite tenderness and passion.
Thure Lindhardt as Lars is a gentle, enormously attractive beauty from his first scene to his last, but the character is pretty flat: steady and strong but not very interesting. David Dencik got the meaty role in Jimmy, and he pulls it off brilliantly. He is completely believable both as the bitter, arrogant, brutal Nazi homophobe and as the sweet, gentle, deeply vulnerable and passionate man who eventually emerges from that hateful shell. If the first third of the movie had not been so revolting, Jimmy's emergence from that horrible world would not have been so marvelous. And it IS marvelous, some of the loveliest acting I have ever seen.
Raw, naked, totally defenseless vulnerability is something rarely seen in movies, particularly from male actors. In fact the ONLY previous example that comes to mind is Jane Fonda fairly early in her career - in Klute and even more powerfully earlier in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Fonda, in both those roles, had been beaten down by a cruel system she was helpless against; but Dencik is breaking out - against his own will - from within an even more brutal system in which he has been on top and on which he has been completely dependent for his identity.
He discovers that he's just like the guys he's been attacking, and that discovery shatters him. It shatters him, but it finally begins to set him free to be himself for the first time. It's a very great performance that makes an otherwise mediocre movie (deeply offensive when it's not simply unbelievable) well worth watching. The transformation just in his eyes is astonishing. All eight stars are for him.
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