A tale of two young ex-military men who find forbidden love as comrades in a neo-Nazi group (call it Brokeback Bund), the tedious Danish melodrama Brotherhood fails both as a study of homoerotic undercurrents in fascist enclaves and as a contemporary portrait of machismo and the closet. Vulnerable, blond Lars (Thure Lindhardt) quits the army after reports of his drunken passes at male subordinates cost him a promotion; chafing at the hectoring of his parents, he falls in with a white supremacist organization whose loutish rank and file assault Muslim immigrants and park-cruising queers. After initially denouncing the group as “losers,” why does the seemingly apolitical Lars find himself moshing to racist hardcore bands and writing hateful leaflets for these puny bigots? Could it be for the long, meaningful gazes he shares with dark, brooding Jimmy (David Dencik), right-hand man to the chapter president, whose sleek muscles are adorned with swastika and Iron Cross tattoos?
Becoming housemates to renovate the mini-reich’s beachfront summer cottage, the pair of lusty vets fixes drainpipes and goes for frolicsome swims as a lachrymose score suggests a vintage Lifetime-movie romance made for the 25-to-34 Aryan demographic. Once the couple finally hits the sheets (to swelling strings) and endures an awkward “Well, back to studying Mein Kampf” morning after, Dencik salvages some of his scenes with tormented, repressed silence, but the clanking plot mechanics (Jimmy’s resentful, drug-addled little brother waiting in the wings to stumble upon the secret) sabotage the actors’ competence and director Nicolo Donato’s RED camera-shot widescreen compositions. Brotherhood is a less talky, sexed-up European equivalent of American History X that mistakes its generic cross-pollination of soft porn and radical thug life for importance.