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.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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8 thoughts on “Binging on Mads Mikkelsen Films (Part 1)”
Thank you for the suggestions I’m gonna watch bleeder
Awesome! I really really liked it. Definitely a film I’d watch again.
Hell yeah! What a GREAT title for a GREAT blog entry! I’m officially binging on your ‘Binging on Mads Mikkelsen’. It was like suddenly bumping into the inexistent League of Mads Mikkelsen’s Movies Club! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.
I have seen the movies you have reviewed and I feel we are totally in the same page. I found myself completely agreeing -out loud- on the things you highlight about the movies and the characters, thinking I shouldn’t have been able to express those feelings better.
I’m so glad that thanks to a fantastic tv show like Hannibal, where Mads offers a impeccable renewed version of a character that was clearly shaped in everybody’s heads (notice the voluntary usage of the past tense) his even more astonishing previous works are getting some well deserved worldwide recognition. He’s the most versatile actor I’ve had the pleasure to see and he moves me the way no other actor does. You could see his entire filmography in a marathon day and yet you would find that every character is a different world.
The list of movies that you already have to watch (or at least the ones you haven’t reviewed yet) is promising. I’m sure you are going to find some treasures that will make you laugh and cry. Pusher II has a special place in my heart. It is one of his most heart wrenching roles. And Flickering Lights along with Adam’s Apples and The Green Butchers are brilliant pieces of dark comedy. I have to admit that I share the sick sense of humor that most danish do have and that makes me personally enjoy these pieces, even though some people might find them sad or disturbing.
I tried to make a short list with recommendations but to be honest the list started to grow … but well, I think you should continue your investigation with Pusher II and then giving a try to (in no special order): After The Wedding, Prague, The Hunt, Open Hearts, A Royal Affair, Valhalla Rising and the visually stunning Nu (short movie)
I’m not being helpful at all, but I’m so unconditionally in love with this man that I sound like his grandmother! Does it have any sense??? I can’t stop shamelessly promoting and praising his work! 🙂
Enjoy and keep up the great work!
Thank you so much for all of this! I’m definitely looking for the Green Butchers and Valhalla Rising. I’ve heard great things about both. I’ve seen the others on lists but haven’t heard too much about them. I’m definitely adding those to the list. Later on today I’m probably going to watch Flickering Lights and if I’m not too tired after work I’m going to start PusherI & II as well. I just can’t get enough of Mads.
You know you chose a great topic and hit the nail on the head with it when you get replies as insightful and thorough as the one Carmen L just left. I subscribe every single word she wrote!
I’ve been delighted to watch most of these films over the last few days; I find it really annoying that an actor who can portray such a wide range of emotions so masterfully, so beautifully, is frequently tagged by the press as “that bad guy from Casino Royale”, when in fact Mikkelsen has delivered superb performances as a husband and father, a son, a minister, an artist, or just an ordinary guy. A good guy, that is; we just didn’t know it, our bad.
The Hunt, Open Hearts, Prague, Coco & Igor and After the Wedding all shattered my heart; I also loved King Arthur, The Door, Torremolinos 73 and Adam’s Apples; but for me, every film with Mikkelsen on it is a must-see film. And yes, this world needs the League of Mads Mikkelsen’s Movies Club to be a thing! 🙂
Coco & Igor is scheduled to air on TV next week and I have it set up to record. I figure I’ll make my way through a lot of his other stuff by the time that airs. I wish I knew what channel. The woman I’m living with spotted it and set it up for me (lol I just can’t stop talking ’bout Mads so she kinda picked up on my obsession and is enabling me). I’ve heard great things about King Arthur too and Hugh Dancy is also in it. So much good stuff! I can’t wait for work to be over to day so I can watch Flickering Lights. 🙂
Your review of Bleeder is amazing! Lenny and Lea ARE bright despite their discreet behaviour Their love story is subtly moving.I totally agree with you when you say” I would have honestly watched the film if it’d just been about them”. Mads may be the best actor of our generation…The film directors should hire him more often!
I am so new to Hannibal and just started getting to know Mads Mikkelsen’s movies. I am def going to watch the movies after being blown away by his role as Dr Lecter.
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