Citadel Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
DVD released by New Video
Written and directed by Ciarán Foy
2012, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Theatrically released on November 9th, 2012
DVD released on January 29th, 2013
Aneurin Barnard as Tommy
James Cosmo as Priest
Wunmi Mosaku as Marie
Jake Wilson as Danny
One of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, has said people often ask him what it's like having a new infant at home when you already have three young children. He says, "Imagine you're drowning...and then someone hands you a baby."
Although in a completely different genre, Citadel reflects this sentiment perfectly. After witnessing a horrific attack that takes the vivacity of his nearly-due wife, Tommy is drowning in agoraphobia. Infant daughter Elsa is delivered to a world of her father being in the same room yet miles away. They live in limbo; waiting for the day when Tommy is ready to take Joanna off life support. When he lets her go he will be able to leave the slum they inhabited and take Elsa somewhere safer; away from the lingering hooded gangsters that killed his wife.
But luck is never Tommy's. After Joanna passes peacefully, never waking from that initial attack, he turns in keys to his home to the housing authority. Then he misses the last bus out of town for the day. Breaking into the old home means the locks are no longer secure...and something wants to come inside.
Citadel kept me on the edge of my seat for a very uncomfortable ride. When children are involved, as in the case of The Tall Man, the vulnerability of the characters is increased exponentially. When it's a nine-month-old baby with an unprepared and anxious father, it's downright nerve-wracking. I really appreciated the frank way director Ciaran Foy dealt with the frustration and anger Tommy faced daily. The scene depicting his therapeutic sessions was painful and his fear of the front door was maddening; perfect mirrors of what the character himself was facing. The scenes with the feral children making up the gang left me clawing the seat. They break into Tommy's house easily looking for Elsa; they're quick and strong and never on frame long enough for the watcher to really know what he's up against. And when you finally see them...sweet Christ.
Citadel has a strong message about redemption; we all have something we fear that is keeping us from taking responsibility for our lives. We're all just waiting for that final push to drive us to action. After speaking with the director, I see a lot of more of his goals with the movie, but I think I wanted a stronger push. Sometimes the pace lags, especially during the climax at the end. I'm sure my American sentimentality expected a huge action sequence and I balked when Irish sentimentality countered with an entirely realistic plan of action that a priest, mentally ill young father, and blind 8-year-old actually could pull together. And although the color treatments and makeup were perfectly appropriate, it got a bit monotonous. I think that was probably the point of Tommy's illness; it's a never-ending cycle of torment, but as a viewer I just wanted him to fucking do something.
All in all, I'd recommend Citadel, if not for the one moment that's going to make you stand up in the theater and scream, "Holy shit, Marie!!"
In related news, Jim Gaffigan is now expecting his fifth child. Holy shit, Jim.