EUFF 2017: Our Review Of ‘The Citizen’

EUFF 2017: Our Review Of ‘The Citizen’

Wilson Ugabe spends a lot of time listening to people talk down to him. And some of those people are prominent and powerful like his constitution examiners. They determine whether or not a grocery store security guard like him can pass a Hungarian pre-citizenship test. This is like a modern day rehashing of  Jude the Obscure. Wilson (Dr. Cake-Baly Marcelo) confronts these examiners who take his enthusiasm for his new country cynically. Chronicling his second try and onward is The Citizen or Az allampolgar, a film that Roland Vranik directed. To help him pass is a tutor, Maria (Agnes Mahr).

Maria is an unhappy housewife with slacker, overgrown sons. Of course, we know what happens when two unhappy are in a film together. Wilson is a compassionate man. That quality comes into play when an Iranian woman, Shirin (Arghavan Shekari) walks in front of his doorstep. She escaped from her detention centre without her papers, as Hungary rejects her refugee status. She’s also pregnant and gives birth in secret during the film, and he’s helping her hide herself and the baby. He was a foreigner that local women ignore. But he now has to choose between a woman he loves and another in need.

What’s present in this movie is war and violence, although Vranik doesn’t depict it on screen. Wilson recounts his wife’s murder in his home country of Guinea-Bissau. He wants to be a citizen of a country with an equally violent history. He uses stories like Hungarian patron saint Stephen to question what his new country glorifies. Hungarian citizens a millennium later also forgets St. Stephen’s pro-immigrant stance by hurling slurs at him. Some of those scenes seem like mustache-twirling. Despite of that, Vranik creates an affecting film that show the highs and lows of refugee life.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.