Citizen Gangster is one of the best indie releases of 2012, hands down. Some critics obviously have had their say. But in an era when so many crime dramas are riddled with too much overt violence and sexuality, this piece strikes just enough of a balance to maintain its grip on the audience through the course of its almost two hour run. One can’t help but feel some sympathy for lead character Edwin Boyd (Scott Speedman) as he faces his own inner trials after deciding to take on a life of crime just to be able to support his family. The world is in a state of economic uncertainty right now. And while this movie by no means intends to reiterate that, seeing Boyd’s struggles after returning from WWII makes him at least somewhat relatable.
Speedman is spot on in the role of Boyd. Rather than trying to be some sort of over the top type of gangster a la James Cagney, Speedman’s quiet inner battles show him to be a flawed, imperfect character. It makes him that much more human. Some would say that he is the only real light of this movie. But one has to remember that an actor alone can only do so much. Thanks to the work of writer/director Nathan Morlano, Speedman has given a brilliant performance. And the story itself is emotionally powerful and gripping. As disturbing as some moments may be, audiences won’t want to look away. Nor will they want to look away from the wonderful cinematography, either. That too adds its own extra element of enjoyment.
As impressive as this indie flick is, it should be noted that it is unrated. But there is enough violence and foul language to qualify it at least for an “R” rating. That being noted, viewer discretion is advised for those with younger children. Speaking of that language and violence, it is nowhere at the level of say Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990) or Francis Ford Coppela’s Godfather trilogy. It has enough of a balance even there, that any fan of the gangster genre will likely find this to be enjoyable, given the opportunity. It’s even better than 2009′s big screen fiasco, Public Enemies, which paled in comparison to the book on which it was based.
Citizen Gangster likely won’t be seen by the number of people who have seen the Godfather Trilogy, or Goodfellas, or even Public Enemies. But one thing can be said of it. It is one of the year’s most underrated–and probably most underappreciated–movies in the crime drama/thriller category. It is also without a doubt, one of the best in the indie field this year.
Citizen Gangster will be available Tuesday in stores and online. It can be ordered online at http://www.ifcfilms.com/dvd-digital-download.
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