Ben (Shlomi Betonov) and his partner Raz (Ariel Wolf) move to a large apartment in south Tel Aviv, an area that has been sold to them as up-and-coming. In a bid to help improve his neighbourhood Ben plants a tree in the street and he’s furious when he sees an Eritrean immigrant leaning against it so he calls the police. What he considers to be an inconsequential action, sends him into an existential crisis when the police arrive and respond to the immigrant with unnecessary violence. Consumed with guilt, Ben begins to question his life and decisions which has a huge impact on his relationship.
‘Concerned Citizen’ is a film from writer/director Idan Haguel and it’s billed as a satire about middle-class privilege and entitlement. The film starts off fairly light with Ben and Raz planning to use a surrogate to have a baby, which they inform their friends over dinner. Things take a turn when Ben calls the police about the immigrant leaning against his tree, and from that point on the film is much less a satire and more an exploration of how a small action done with little thought, can have a major impact.
After witnessing the immigrant being attacked by the police, Ben spirals into guilt. He questions whether he and Raz can raise a child in the neighbourhood they live in and he worries about the world they are considering bringing a child into. Much of the film tries to unpack Ben’s guilt as he drifts off to the borders of depression, threatening to ruin his relationship with Raz and derail his whole life. Ben battles with the feeling that he somehow needs to right the wrong he inadvertently caused and that results in a surprising action.
Anchoring the whole film is the performance of Shlomi Bertonov. He acquits himself well playing Ben as equal parts hapless and guilt-ridden. Driving forward the story lies squarely on his shoulders and he rises to the challenge. It would have been a bonus to really dig into his character and understand his points of view, which would have given the film a much more rounded feel for the viewer.
Bonus features on the PeccadilloPod.com release four short interviews with Haguel. He takes the audience behind-the-scenes of the film discussing the story, the casting and sharing his thoughts on the power of satire.
‘Concerned Citizen’ works much more as an exploration of guilt, and tolerance, than it does a social satire. The film’s overly gloomy mood dampens the film’s lighter moments which is a shame. Haguel clearly had something to say with this film but I’m not entirely convinced he manages to get his point across clearly. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy ‘Concerned Citizen’ and it is thought-provoking, it’s just not perhaps the film that it set out to be.
Cast: Shlomi Bertonov, Ariel Wolf, Lena Fraifeld, Uriah Jablonowsky Director: Idan Haguel Writer: Idan Haguel Certificate: Unrated Duration: 82 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Release date: 23rd January 2023 Watch on PeccadilloPod.com
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