‘Concerned Citizen’ Review: A Gentle Satire on White Guilt

The superb line between being proper and being righteous is on the heart of Idan Haguel’s “Concerned Citizen.” The Tel Aviv-set movie follows a younger homosexual man residing in a neighborhood that’s supposedly on the upswing who has to query whether or not his dedication to bettering this more and more gentrified group is all that selfless — or whether or not, in truth, that moniker he makes use of to explain himself and which provides the movie its title is a smokescreen for extra unseemly sentiments about his immigrant neighbors. Haguel’s deft darkish comedy is a good character examine of the curdling results of white guilt and white privilege.

Ben and Raz (actual life couple Shlomi Bertonov and Ariel Wolf) dwell in a picturesque condo. Their cabinets are adorned with masterfully manicured home crops and hip espresso desk books on Bowie; their each morning is scored by the sounds of their robotic vacuum adopted by the hum of their blender as they make one another inexperienced juices to kick begin their day. Together they’ve created a secure haven inside their doorways that staves off the comparatively chaotic city world proper exterior their door. Theirs is what we’ve come to label a neighborhood in transition — particularly, a group the place low actual property costs have begun to draw {couples} like Ben and Raz who worth the “multicultural” vibe of their surroundings in principle although maybe not a lot in observe.

When Ben crops a tree on the road proper exterior of his condo, he feels as if he’s serving to higher the area for all these round. That is, till he sees from his balcony, two younger Black neighbors casually hanging out by the still-fragile tree. He worries in the event that they hold leaning on it, this added greenery will outright snap, solely his nice if needlessly abrasive calls for go largely unheeded. After confronting his Eritrean neighbors exterior, he retreats to his cozy condo and calls town (anonymously, in fact), solely to witness quickly thereafter how two policemen harass and brutalize one of many males with impunity.

The episode rightly rattles Ben, who retains attempting to go about his days as if nothing had occurred — as if he hadn’t made something occur. He and Raz proceed to pursue a surrogate being pregnant whereas Ben tinkers away with architectural designs at his workplace. Except Ben can’t hold the picture of a police officer kicking within the head of his neighbor out of his thoughts. Not that Haguel really provides us such didactic framing. Instead, his digicam lingers on Bertonov throughout these mundane moments and also you see him distractedly attempting to maintain up, misplaced in thought, clearly at a loss as to how you can proceed (unsurprisingly, the movie is at its brightest and Ben at his most ebullient in public throughout a quick sequence set at Tel Aviv’s sunny pleasure parade).

There’s a tidy conceit right here with which Haguel units to out Ben’s personal privilege. The holier-than-thou angle he and Raz show when discussing their actual property (and household planning) decisions begin to look insidious and compromising as soon as it’s clear Ben will not be lower out to dwell in a constructing the place human feces randomly present up on the communal vestibule. Maybe one among his neighbors is true about promoting and transferring away (“the homeless, the junkies, the refugees,” he says in regards to the neighborhood, “it breaks my heart”).

With an at instances thumping at others deliberately distressing rating by Zoe Polanski, Haguel’s fable about human foibles crashes right into a climax that establishes the younger Israeli filmmaker as an attentive observer of the lengths males like Ben will go to rewrite their very own story. The movie’s caustic ending serves as a coup de grace for what’s an more and more claustrophobic story about blinkered visions and self-made narratives. Much of that’s owed to Bertonov, who wryly captures Ben’s misguided makes an attempt at rectifying, resolving and finally retconning the complete affair. Haguel’s naturalism (he shot the movie in his personal condo and solid an actual life couple) lends itself fairly effectively to the acerbic comedic rhythms of his screenplay, which find yourself simply shy of making a caricature of its central characters nearly as good homosexual gentrifiers.

Camera and movie alike keep squarely with Ben. This makes “Concerned Citizen” oppressively self-contained. There’s no room right here for any insights into how these anonymous Eritrean neighbors he sporadically interacts with on the stairwell really feel about this “crazy” neighbor of theirs (as they dub him), nor even for any inkling of what goes on in Raz’s thoughts as he witnesses his husband beginning to behave a tad irrationally. That’s intentional, although it does add a stage of shortsightedness to its construction that nags the identical manner it does Ben. With its piercing, probing ultimate moments, which flip self-flagellating into thorny cathartic territory, Haguel has crafted an intimate portrait of privilege that’s as damning as it’s discomfiting.

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