By Don Simpson | August 20, 2010
Director: Nicolo Donato
Writer(s): Rasmus Birch, Nicolo Donato
Starring: Nicolas Bro, David Dencik, Claus Flygare, Michael Gronnemose, Hanne Hedelund
Recently dismissed from the Danish army as a direct result of rumors of his homosexual behavior, Lars (Thure Lindhardt) – the dashing 22-year-old quintessential Aryan – falls in with a gang of neo-Nazi hoodlums whose leader Michael “Fatty” (Nicolas Bro) sees potential in his intelligent, eloquent and confrontational nature. The primary targets of the members of this local branch of the National Socialists are the “Pakis” who are purportedly settling in Denmark for the sole purpose of acquiring social services and financial assistance (similar to the Tea Party’s perception of “foreigners” in the United States.)
After being booted from his parents’ home, Lars is sent to shack up with one of the group’s A-members, Jimmy (David Dencik), in a cozy seaside house being remodeled for Ebbe (Claus Flygare), the supreme leader of the organization. Jimmy is assigned the task of prepping Lars on the rules of a lifetime A-membership, which Lars has promptly been offered. (Fatty also advices Jimmy to “just make sure [Lars] doesn’t get too cocky.”) The A-membership requires that one pledge to fight for white supremacy, promise to live in harmony with nature’s laws (Jimmy drinks organic beer because it’s important not to “fuck up nature”) and become familiar with the vision of the Third Reich. Though the shaved-skulled Hitler youth enjoy such homoerotic activities as wrestling shirtless, skinny dipping and slamming each other’s sweaty bodies together (a.k.a. slam-dancing), they have an unspoken hatred for “faggots.” (As Lars points out — Hitler had Ernst Rohm, one of his closest allies, executed because he was queer.) Unfortunately for Jimmy and Lars, they fall in love with each other putting their memberships and lives in peril.
Yes, our anti-heroes Lars and Jimmy are extremely bigoted and violent and they certainly don’t deserve our sympathy in any way; but Nicolo Donato’s nuanced direction makes certain that we grant it to them anyway. Donato ensures that we experience the human side of Lars and Jimmy as well as grow to detest the predicament of forbidden love that they find themselves entwined within. This places the audience in a very awkward position: Are we being sympathetic toward two gay men or two extreme racists…or both? Considering that neither Lars nor Jimmy show any signs of wavering on their stance regarding the “Pakis,” it looks like we are stuck sympathizing with racists…but we can only hope that they will change their minds.
The National Socialists may not currently have a stronghold in United States’ politics (as they do in many Scandinavian nations), but it’s difficult not to see similarities between their propaganda and that of the Tea Party (who have yet to release a defining platform, but whose figureheads have expressed anti-immigrant and homophobic sentiments on countless occasions). We may have thought we defeated Hitler and his crazy ideologies in 1945, but Brotherhood is a bitter reminder that judgments based purely on race, religion and sexual orientation still exist (as if we still need a reminder after the passage of bills such as California’s Proposition 8 and Arizona’s SB 1070).