The Danish film Brotherhood, which won "Best Film" at last year's Rome International Film Festival, arrives with a scenario that makes it easy to dismiss: Two young men, both members of a neo-Nazi street gang, fall in love. Sounds trashy, sounds silly, but first-time director Nicolo Donato, who wrote the screenplay with Rasmus Birch, and a superb ensemble refuse to wink, resulting in a film that constantly subverts expectation. Recently dismissed from the Danish army, 22-year-old Lars (Thure Lindhardt) falls in with a small gang of ultra-nationalist thugs whose leader (Nicolas Bro) sees potential in the smart, literate Lars. Eventually, Lars is sent to live with Jimmy (David Dencik), the leader's brooding second-in-command, in a small house he's remodeling for one of the group's rich patrons. And there, as promised, the two men slowly fall in love. This still sounds like a potboiler, but here's the thing: What lingers in the mind about Brotherhood isn't the details of the plot but the soulful tension between Lars and Jimmy, whose merest glance at one another is a complex mix of passion, need, and fear. These guys are bigoted and violent, and don't in any way deserve redemption, but you may find yourself hoping that they find it anyway.
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