Review by Dan Skip Allen
World War II is full of tragic, fascinating, and incredible true stories. Some stories are too good to believe. A lot of movies have been made about all of these stories in recent months and years. The Good Traitor tells an unheard-of story about this tragic war.
On April 9th, 1940 the lives of the Danish people were changed forever when their country was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany. While that was going on in Europe, Henrick Kauffman (Ulrich Thomsen) — the Ambassador to Denmark in The United States — tried to broker deals to defeat the Germans and save his country while also dealing with drama on the homefront.
This story was a fascinating one because I had never heard of it before. It's great to see films about these stories that are so pivotal in the overall scheme of things during World War II but have never been brought to film before. The film looked like it took place in the 1940s. Danish director Christina Rosendahl uses some neat camera tricks and older filmmaking styles to make the film feel older and grainier. Her style stands out even though it's a period piece set in the 1940s. Watching all the things she does with the camera was almost as great as watching this fascinating story unfold before my eyes.
Along with Thomsen, the cast is full of character actors that play a vital role in making this film come to life. The cast includes Burn Gorman as Berle, an American government official, Denise Gough as Charlotte, Kauffman's wife, Zoe Tapper as Zilla, Charlotte's sister, Mikkel Folsgaard as Povil Bang-Jenson a Danish embassy employee, and Esben Delgaard Anderson as another Danish embassy employee with an agenda of his own. Every actor performs their roles adequately to give the film a very important feel to it. They were all very good in their respective roles.
As if taking over Denmark by the Germans and trying to rally the allies to help his country weren't enough, Kauffman also had some other problems on his hands. A couple of subplots involving some espionage and some personal issues between the two sisters were a bonus to this script by Christina Rosendahl, Dunja Fry Jensen, and Kristian Bang Foss. These subplots were perfectly mixed in to break up the main story. That story could have become monotonous without the other two subplots.
Everything made the 155 minute run time perfect. The film didn't seem to drag. The subplots helped with that without muddling the main story. There was also some archival footage and the film was half and half subtitles and English for those who aren't fans of reading a movie. The subtitled portion didn't take up that much time of the film. The archival footage was effective in showing some of the real events to the viewer to make people realize how realistic this story and film are. Rosendahl did a great job with these aspects of the film.
Overall this film had very good acting by all involved, a serviceable script and story, and some very interesting camera tricks to make the film look a little different yet period-centric to the time. It is always good to see films about stories that were not known before. That's the magic of film: the discovery of new voices and new ideas are always welcomed because so many things have been rehashed in the past.
The Good Traitor hits VOD on March 26.