Binging on Mads Mikkelsen Films (Part 1)
You know how it is when you watch a new thing, find an actor that you really love, then marathon everything he’s ever done? Yeah, that’s what I’m doing right now with Mads Mikkelsen. It happens sometimes. I haven’t been pulled into a fandom faster than I was with Hannibal. One week it was like “cannibalism? No thank you.” Now I’m reblogging Will and Hannibal with flower crowns and comic sans captioned pictures and screaming ‘PLEASE HELP WILL GRAHAM’ all day long. Thanks Tumblr! I’m not quite sure what happened, but here we are. I am a devoted fannibal.
Then an even more unexpected thing happened. Instead of becoming obsessed with the younger actor who plays the tragic protagonist, I started being drawn to the older Danish man playing the cannibalistic serial killer. Crazy, right? Nothing against Hugh Dancy (he’s marvelous), but Mads just did something to me. Every time I learned something new about him the more impressed I became. He’s a gymnast and a ballet dancer, you say? No way. Fluent in several languages (Dutch, Swedish, English… maybe more)? Incredible. Then I started looking at his films and ran across a few gifs from En Kort en Lang, where he plays a gay man in a ‘comedy’ (I’ll explain why I put that in quotes later). My interest was piqued. And thus begun my Mads Mikkelsen film binge…
En Kort en Lang
This film is billed as a comedy and, while it definitely has a lot of wonderfully funny moments, I have trouble laughing at plot lines that involve infidelity. The film was brilliant, however, and I definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to see Mads as someone other than Hannibal Lecter. In fact, I think this is a great place to start on your own epic Mads Mikkelsen film binge. Mads is adorable in this. Jacob is clumsy, forgetful, and hopelessly romantic. I might not always have agreed with his characters decisions, but I still liked the guy. I was still able to sympathize with him while simultaneously wanting to reach through the screen and yell at him for his bad decision making.
The ending is also one of the most ridiculously romantic things ever. Think of the most romantic thing you’ve ever seen and the most outrageously ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen and smash them together and you get the ending to this film. I was literally cheering him on out loud, though, even though I was watching it completely by myself. If anyone overheard me I’m sure they think I’ve lost my marbles, but I was just really excited for him, you know? Couldn’t be helped.
I laughed. I cried. Then I set out on finding the next Mads Mikkelsen film…
Mads plays Lenny, an awkward video store clerk, who has some not so nice friends who find themselves in a lot of trouble. Lenny and the bookish girl he falls for are pretty much the only bright points in the film. The rest of the characters are completely and utterly tragic. They’re gangster, criminals, and just all around not very fortunate people. Some of them bring their misfortune on themselves, but others are simply caught in the fray of tragedy against their will.
The plot is hard to handle. If you are triggered by domestic violence I would steer clear of this one, but if you can stand those scenes it’s worth it to see Mads playing an adorable film geek. I’m usually a fan of geek romances anyway, but the sad cast of characters just made me fall in love with the pair even more. They are sweet and awkward and full of potential sunshine and rainbows despite the absolute crap fest happening around them. I would have honestly watched the film if it’d just been about them, but I suppose they needed tragedy to highlight just how beautiful and innocent they are. In short, I loved this film.
The first two movies I watched featured Mads in cute goofy roles. This? Well, he’s a badass resistance fighter during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. He goes by the name ‘Citron’ and he’s also a family man who struggles with balancing the safety of his family and the perils of fighting against the Nazis. He’s a deeply conflicted man in horrifically troubled times and I found myself on the verge of crying about him numerous times, especially in the latter half of the film. This is much more serious than the other two films (the gun violence in Bleeder notwithstanding) and much more cinematic. To put it simply, this film is beautiful and you should watch it even if Mads wasn’t it it. It’ll make you emotional, but it’s worth it. Go get some tissues and some chocolate. Go hug your cat. Then curl up and watch this film.
Here we enter the “sad Mads Mikkelsen films” phase of my viewing experience. But to be honest, most of his films are incredibly sad. If you happen to have some more happy recommendations, feel free to pass them along! Right now I have Pusher I, Pusher II, and Blikende Lygter on the horizon. He’s in a couple dozen films, though, so I’m all ears for what should come next! Leave recommendations in the comments below.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.