Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Danish Neo-Nazis in Love: Brotherhood

For two Danish Neo-Nazis, the example of Ernst Röhm is only too telling. The leader of the SA, Röhm vocally championed National Socialism’s socialist roots. He was also homosexual, which supplied a handy pretext to purge him when Hitler decided his former friend and comrade was getting too popular. The point is not lost on Lars and Jimmy, two furtive lovers, whose relationship would not be well received by their hate group in Nicolo Donato’s Brotherhood (trailer here), which opens in New York this Friday.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” might not be Danish military policy, but hitting on men under your command is definitely not acceptable. When his superiors learn Lars has done exactly that, instead of a promotion to staff sergeant, he is cashiered out of service. As result, he re-enters civilian life as a tall Aryan tower of resentment, ripe for recruitment by the local white power cell.

As a former military man, Lars has action cred with “Fatso,” the local recruiter and liaison to the upper party leadership. He greases the wheels for Lars’ meteoric rise within the local cell structure. Initially, this rankles Jimmy, a veteran skin-head activist. However, when Fatso manipulates them into rooming together, one thing leads to another and before you know it, Jimmy is one confused hate-monger.

Brotherhood is most insightful when depicting the ways extremist organizations recruit members, playing on their alienation and vulnerabilities. Indeed, on an intellectual level, Lars knows what a pack of losers his new friends are. He even says so directly, several times. Yet he still signs on, out of a sense of aggrieved disaffection.

The steep rise of anti-Semitism in Europe is a legitimate cause for alarm, but disturbingly, it gets scant mention in Brotherhood. Instead, the targets of Fatso’s cell are either closeted homosexuals or Muslim immigrants, who granted are not exactly skinhead favorites. Still, if gay Danish Neo-Nazi movies are reluctant to mention anti-Semitism, you can safely conclude Europe simply is not serious about addressing the problem.

Frankly, the story arc of Brotherhood is a bit problematic as well. Once Lars and Jimmy become a secret item, they start acting very stupidly. They should know better. After all, they know what happened to Röhm. Lars mentions it himself in an early scene, simply to make Fatso squirm. Rasmus Birch’s screenplay also ends on a weak note, not really concluding, but just petering out of steam.

To be fair, Thure Lindhardt certainly looks Aryan as Lars. His courtship scenes with the Swedish born David Dencik as Jimmy are also nicely turned. There is a visible tension there as they simultaneously embrace and push each other away. Of course, it is all headed pretty much where you think it is.

Those who expect boldness from gay Danish Neo-Nazi movies will probably be a little disappointed in Brotherhood, and not for its lack of explicitness (or maybe for that reason as well). It has some pointed moments, but overall the film is relatively simplistic. It opens this Friday (8/6) in New York at the Cinema Village.