November 7, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Citadel'

Citadel (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

It would appear that the high-rise apartment block is currently in vogue, with regards to the setting of some recent movies. Even the accompanying artwork for these films has a similar edge to them; movies such as The Raid, Attack the Block and the recently released Tower Block. Now, I have not seen Tower Block as of writing this, but both The Raid and Attack the Block were two entirely different, and very good movie. The former being a full-on kick-ass action flick and the latter having more of a Sci-Fi infused humorous approach to the events portrayed, without being a comedy.

Now, I have had the pleasure of watching Ciaran Foy’s Citadel, a movie which is worlds apart from the aforementioned, aside from the core setting of the film. Citadel is a bleak and claustrophobic piece of cinema that lends more to the likes of Ils (Them), than it does to the films I have already mentioned. Even then, that would not really do justice to Citadel. Enjoy the brief levity of the first couple of minutes of this film, as after that the film takes aim at the darkest recesses of the mind.

Tommy is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy; he loves his wife, and the two of them are expecting their first child. Their lives take a header though when Tommy, through a cruel twist of fate, witnesses a horrific assault on his wife. The full consequences and details of this attack I shall bypass, so as to not take away from its power, but the long-term consequence being that Tommy develops a serious case of agoraphobia. This confines him to his small apartment, where he ventures out only to visit a support group.

To add further trauma to Tommy’s life, it seems that his apartment is being constantly under assault from what appear to be hooded thugs.

Citadel is most certainly a horror film, although it is not necessarily the horror film you might expect to see. Aside from the physical and visual horror onscreen, which is a more gradual process, the film really does focus on the emotional horror that Tommy is enduring. His physical and mental state suffers to an incredible extent, and you will find yourself really feeling for his situation. The core idea of the story is actually based on a real life experience that writer/director Foy himself had to endure, and this shows in the execution of the film. The locales are bleak and rundown; believe me when I tell you that you would not want to live in the area that Tommy resides in. It’s grim in this area of Glasgow, and the palette of the film only serves to reflect this. Greys and greens dominate the visuals and wonderfully compliment Citadel’s plot.

The film is very much grounded in reality, although it does lean towards almost fantastical at times. The inclusion of a character known as Priest keeps things ground though, with his abrupt ‘take no shit’ approach to Tommy’s problems, although thankfully the focus is primarily on Tommy himself.

Aneurin Barnard, as Tommy, is the real star of this show. His performance is truly wonderful, with his ability to truly convey the pain, suffering and fear he endures, being superb. The fact that this is achieved without a descent into cheesy melodrama is quite the feat. He is ably supported by the rest of the cast, with James Cosmo (as Priest) being his usual reliably gruff self.

Regardless of what you may have read about Citadel it will still have the power to surprise and affect you. A slight lag in the pacing in the middle third was not enough to take anything away from what I think is a quite excellent film. It’s brutal, stark and will ensure you keep your docks locked and windows closed when you retire to bed at night.

Citadel opens at select theaters on November 9th.


Dr. AC said...

So glad you got to see this, Jude! Where did you catch it?

Lord of Filth said...

I watched an online screener for it. Will definitely be picking it up on disc though