Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Citadel

Like Kill List (2011) and Heartless (2009), this taut thriller wrings maximum suspense from all-too ordinary, real-life terrors while gradually edging into full-blown horror territory.

Oct 19, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365318-Citadel_Md-Copy.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It's moving day for Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and his hugely pregnant wife, Joanne (Amy Shiels), and they're thrilled to be getting out of their apartment in a rundown Irish housing project and moving to a much nicer development in nearby Edenstown. Even if they'll still be able to see their old building, they'll be seeing it from their own little house, one that opens onto a pretty green. And then, just as Tommy is taking the last suitcase downstairs in the rattletrap elevator with the dicey door, the unthinkable happens. Three youngsters in hoodies set upon Joanne like a pack of rabid dogs and Tommy is trapped, just a few feet away and helpless; by the time he gets out, the children are gone and Joanne is covered in blood, a hypodermic needle stuck deep in her belly.

Doctors are able to save her unborn child, but Joanne slips into coma brought on by some unidentified infection. Tommy goes home with a baby girl he names Elsa and commits himself to being the best father he can, but the attack has awakened agoraphobic tendencies that not only don't improve with therapy but actually get worse…especially after he begins glimpsing the feral youngsters who brutalized Joanne lurking around his new home.

Isolated and overwhelmed, Tommy has only two real confidants: gentle, down-to-earth nurse Marie (Wunmi Mosaku), who encourages Tommy not to demonize the children, deeply damaged products of neglect and abuse themselves, and a volatile priest (James Cosmo), who says just the opposite—that they're monsters in human form and Tommy is right to fear them. They kidnap children and turn them into vicious beasts just like them; Danny (Jake Wilson), the solemn young blind boy who goes everywhere with him, is the only child he's ever been able to recover and successfully rehabilitate. Tommy would like to believe Marie, but from where Tommy stands, the priest's grim explanation is more convincing.

Citadel, Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy's first feature, inspired by his own experience of an unprovoked attack when he was a teenager by a group of hammer-wielding thugs, is an assured piece of genre filmmaking that plays on the primal fear of being unable to shield one's family from violence. And while he's a capable director of suspense sequences, he also shows a sure hand with actors, eliciting strong performances from all his leads, including little Jake Wilson. Without them, Marie, Tommy, Danny and the rest would be genre stereotypes; with them, they're people whose various ordeals have real emotional weight.


Film Review: Citadel

Like Kill List (2011) and Heartless (2009), this taut thriller wrings maximum suspense from all-too ordinary, real-life terrors while gradually edging into full-blown horror territory.

Oct 19, 2012

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365318-Citadel_Md-Copy.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

It's moving day for Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and his hugely pregnant wife, Joanne (Amy Shiels), and they're thrilled to be getting out of their apartment in a rundown Irish housing project and moving to a much nicer development in nearby Edenstown. Even if they'll still be able to see their old building, they'll be seeing it from their own little house, one that opens onto a pretty green. And then, just as Tommy is taking the last suitcase downstairs in the rattletrap elevator with the dicey door, the unthinkable happens. Three youngsters in hoodies set upon Joanne like a pack of rabid dogs and Tommy is trapped, just a few feet away and helpless; by the time he gets out, the children are gone and Joanne is covered in blood, a hypodermic needle stuck deep in her belly.

Doctors are able to save her unborn child, but Joanne slips into coma brought on by some unidentified infection. Tommy goes home with a baby girl he names Elsa and commits himself to being the best father he can, but the attack has awakened agoraphobic tendencies that not only don't improve with therapy but actually get worse…especially after he begins glimpsing the feral youngsters who brutalized Joanne lurking around his new home.

Isolated and overwhelmed, Tommy has only two real confidants: gentle, down-to-earth nurse Marie (Wunmi Mosaku), who encourages Tommy not to demonize the children, deeply damaged products of neglect and abuse themselves, and a volatile priest (James Cosmo), who says just the opposite—that they're monsters in human form and Tommy is right to fear them. They kidnap children and turn them into vicious beasts just like them; Danny (Jake Wilson), the solemn young blind boy who goes everywhere with him, is the only child he's ever been able to recover and successfully rehabilitate. Tommy would like to believe Marie, but from where Tommy stands, the priest's grim explanation is more convincing.

Citadel, Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy's first feature, inspired by his own experience of an unprovoked attack when he was a teenager by a group of hammer-wielding thugs, is an assured piece of genre filmmaking that plays on the primal fear of being unable to shield one's family from violence. And while he's a capable director of suspense sequences, he also shows a sure hand with actors, eliciting strong performances from all his leads, including little Jake Wilson. Without them, Marie, Tommy, Danny and the rest would be genre stereotypes; with them, they're people whose various ordeals have real emotional weight.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Time is Illmatic
Film Review: Nas: Time is Illmatic

Intended as the portrait of an artist as a young man, the music doc Time Is Illmatic is actually more interesting as a look back at the place and time that created him. More »

The Decent One
Film Review: The Decent One

A behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the Nazi regime’s most fearsome executioners. More »

The Two Faces of January
Film Review: The Two Faces of January

Good pulp yarn about three disparate Americans—an aging con man, his lovely young wife, and an impetuous tour guide—who meet their destiny among the ancient ruins of Greece. More »

Tazza 2: The Hidden Card
Film Review: Tazza 2: The Hidden Card

Wildly entertaining and kaleidoscopic, this sequel to a Korean hit is strictly aces. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here