Film review: The Citizen.
The Citizen may not be the jolliest of the films showing this Christmas, but this emotional rollercoaster is definitely one of this season's must-watch films.
Inspired by real events, the film follows Ebrahim Jarrah (brilliantly played by Egyptian actor Khalid Nabawy) who wins the US Green Card lottery for a chance to become an American citizen.
Jarrah thinks he is leaving a string of bad luck behind him when he arrives in New York on 10 September, 2001. Little does he know his troubles are far from over. The Lebanese man is arrested, interrogated, and jailed for six months simply because of his skin colour and an unfortunate family name.
He is then freed, but continues to face challenges from finding a job, studying for his English as a Second Language class, to mundane tasks such as taking a stroll down the street.
Jarrah's biggest hurdle, though, comes a few years later, just as he is about to take the citizenship test. His papers are denied due to his background, but he decides not to surrender to fate, and takes the matter to court.
In essence, the plot aims to shed light on xenophobia in America, the challenges of immigration, secret evidence and how people can make generalisations based on appearances.
"I'm from Lebanon," Jarrah tells his American friend.
"Like Gaddafi?" she asks.
"No, that's Libya," he answers.
"So, you speak Persian?" she asks.
The 99-minute-long film is packed with layers of tear-inducing drama, a gripping story because the tale is one that could have happened to anyone.
Jarrah's optimism is contagious, and his motto, "Plant good deeds", is one line that lingers on after the film is over. He is the kind of character everyone can afford to learn from, without being overdone.
Nabawy brings depth to the character, and is joined onscreen by a skillful cast that delivers their roles perfectly.
Starting from the friendly American girl (played by American actress Agnes Bruckner); his Indian boss (played by Rizwan Manji); to the obnoxiously arrogant prosecutor (played by William Atherton), the cast has great harmony in delivering this fast-paced film.
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