Mads Mikkelsen: Top 5 Films

January 20, 2013 6:18 pm

Mads Mikkelsen

This Danish movie star has had quite a year. Roughly, it began with a Best Actor Award at Cannes, and ended with a Best Foreign Picture nomination at the Oscars. If you’ve only heard of this 47-year-old recently, don’t beat yourself up–he started acting at the age of 30 following a career in dance. Film buffs will be familiar with his first major role in Pusher, but for the rest of us, he’s the chilling Le Chiffre – Bond’s arch-enemy – in Casino Royale. He has a shot at confirming his international fame with a US drama, Hannibal, coming out this year, in which he will have to fill Anthony Hopkins’ shoes as Doctor Lecter. As Danish film and TV rises in popularity, it won’t hurt to have a look at this Top 5 pick for their biggest star.

5. Casino Royale – Mikkelsen’s most famous part and a logical access point from which to immerse yourself into his oeuvre. Mikkelsen embodies the acidly cruel and calculated villain, Le Chiffre, forming, with ease, a believable threat to the still defining 007. He quietly bubbles with menace until the blood-boiling final scene, when Bond’s lucky escape is secured by a third party. The excellence of Mikkelsen’s portrayal will become clear only after you’ve seen how much heart and personality he brings out in his more humane roles.

mads mikkelsen

4. Flame and Citron (Flammen & Citronen) – Ole Christian Madsen directed this WWII drama about the Danish resistance’s assassins duo. Just don’t expect a straightforward good-guys vs Nazis storyline here or you might be in for a bitter pill. Before long, you’ll see personal interests and vendettas are the name of the game. Mikkelsen is Citrus: an alcoholic and drug addict unable to control his primal rage. Even though he attempts to prove himself a loving father and husband, he fails without exception. The inevitability of failing is written all over the expressive, repulsive face, unambiguously showing that there are no heroes to worship here, and both Citrus and Flame end up with more blood on their hands than could be redeemable.

3. Adam’s Apples (Adams æbler) – Don’t miss out on seeing Mikkelsen as Ivan – a priest who takes in ex-prisoners for rehabilitation. It doesn’t take long for the newest member of his group, Adam, to realise that Ivan is flaming mad. However, assuming that this will make his escape easier, it proves to be ridden with hilarious comic developments. Watch out for the conviction and endurance in which Mikkelsen’s Ivan faces unbearable hardships.


2. The Hunt (Jagten) – it is difficult to decide between a role that got Mikkelsen a Best Actor Award in Cannes, and the Foreign Film Academy Award Nominee, A Royal Affair. Although Mikkelsen shines in the period piece as the king’s doctor, Johann Struensee, it is The Hunt that’s made him the man of the hour. Resorting to humility and speechlessness when false charges of paedophilia are brought up against him, his neighbours take on the roles of judge and jury. A story about how great love can quickly turn into great fear, and even greater hate leaves a bitter aftertaste far beyond the closing credits.

1. Prague (Prag) – Before the glamorous Ryan Gosling and Michele Williams attempted to salvage the wreck of their failing marriage in Blue Valentine, Mads Mikkelsen and Stine Stengade (as Christoffer and Maja) get on a train to Prague to attempt to save their own. In a man incapable to show a glimmer of emotion, Mikkelsen still manages to convey the heartbreak that Christoffer is going through. Although the female characters are not as well written, the believability of the film lies in the drabness of Prague’s communist past, the ordinary appearance of the leads, and the raw and heartbreaking emotions they evince as their marriage falls with a whisper.

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