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The Citizen More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Director, Sam Kadi, has a promising feature film career ahead...

Author: Christopher Grove from Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
29 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Firstly, let me say that I'm a Canadian living in Michigan. Although I like action flicks as much as the next guy and was very excited by block-busters such as Avatar (Canadian director!) as a Canuck I tend to like thought-provoking, character-driven dramas. Movies where the story-line and people involved stand on their own. I listen to dialog and empathize with the plight of those involved... IF IT IS REALISTIC.

"The Citizen" is just such a film. I was very pleased with it and came away feeling uplifted and hopeful. (does a positive outcome count as a spoiler?) Now, I feel a bit defensive here at the moment. I've read comments by viewers who were tired of this subject; the preponderance of racial profiling brought on by 911 and the portrayal of authority that can be overzealous and without empathy. For me, however, until these kind of injustices end, I'm happy to revisit the subject occasionally and am not put off by the fact that it is 12 years after the events portrayed.

If you're looking for an Bond-like action flick, with white knuckle, edge-of-your seat suspense, you're going to be disappointed. The Citizen was a labour of love about an important subject that haunts the American sociopolitical landscape and seems little to improve over time. In driving home the realities of this disease the film MUST prove to be REAL and this film is just that... Compellingly realistic.

Egyptian actor, Khaled El Nabawy, (gawd he looks like Benjamen Bratt!) plays the protagonist Ibrahim Jarrah, very convincingly. What is not to like about a very handsome, manly guy who is also incredibly kind to all around him. Faced with persecution, we can't help but feel for his pain. But he also has a face that, when the disarming smile drops away, could make you suspect that he could be a very hard-edged, and unfeeling man... Could he actually BE a terrorist?

Ibrahim is befriended by street savvy Diane (Agnes Bruckner) and there is enough plot-twists and angst involved with their characters (as well as another woman) to make you wonder about their "relationship".

The Citizen does have minor flaws. Even I was hoping for more grit and more eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation, sweat and suspense in the incarceration and courtroom scenes. But that might have added more cliché then realism and I'm glad that Sam Kadi chose to stick with realism.

This is a very good film and I highly recommend it.

I give this film an 8 out of 10. Good job!

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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Good, but too much of a cliché

Author: slake09 from Silver Lake, Ohio, USA
15 November 2013

An immigrant from Lebanon arrives here on September 10th, 2001. You can imagine what happens to him; pretty much everything you can think of.

I wanted to like this movie, but it was too much of a cliché for me. Nothing unexpected happened; the bad guys were all bad, the good guys were all good, the Lebanese immigrant didn't make a wrong step. If only life were like that.

Despite everything bad happening to him, he rises above it all and is determined to live the American dream. Nothing gets him down.

Nevertheless, I did watch the whole thing which was rare for something I had never heard of before, and I enjoyed it. It was a feel-good movie, which I also enjoyed. Sometimes I, or anyone, needs some of that.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

The True Colors of Arabs

Author: Hazim Morsy from Egypt
3 December 2013

What I really liked about this film is that it really embraces the true colors of Arabs in general and especially Muslims. The horrible stereotypes that always picture Islam as the "terror religion" have become so annoying these days that I try to avoid any movies that tell stories of Arab terrorists.

Egyptian actor, Khaled ElNabawy plays a very believable Ibrahim who is a Lebanese immigrant coming to the US in search of the American dream. I have to say that I'm Egyptian and never was a fan of Khaled ElNabawy, but this film showed me what a great actor he is with his solid performance. The rest of the cast were also great but the main role was outstanding making you feel every step of suffering this guy went through.

Of course, this movie isn't a movie to go down in history books as a great film but it's more like a message being sent especially to most Americans who unfortunately don't really know that much about other cultures and religions. In general, if you are a Muslim, Persian, Indian or certainly an Arab; you will find this film very satisfying.

I gave it a 7 because of some flaws and plot holes noticed throughout the film, usually I point them out, but this time I'm going to let it go.

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20 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

A great film about decency and cruelty

Author: rightwingisevil from United States
13 November 2013

i was deeply moved and disturbed at the same time while watching this film. it's a great film, telling the exact journey of millions immigrants who migrated to this country with so many naive and hopeful dreams. great cast and superb directing. i like the casting agency to choose a very naturally talented actor to play the main role of this film, he is very likable and so convincing from the first scene. all of the other cast also performed well and looked pretty realistic. the 9/11 disaster and its aftermaths that have changed so many peoples' lives and so many countries images are beyond any measurement can fathom. this and before this tragedy, L.A. riot and the O.J.Simpson's ridiculous trial, all damaged the great image of USA, the ridicule of the American presidency, the run-off-the-mill US military and soldiering authenticity's, their hardcore butchery and cruelty. the L.A. riot and the O.J. Simpson trial also exposed the ridiculous legal system of this democratically proud country and had further damaged this once great nation. and now, a film like this to remind all the citizens of this country not to become so mindless and ruthless to each other. it also reminds us that racial discrimination, racial bias, the hatred and animosity among all the people in America will never go away but only become more tolerate. there are so many excuses for us to act crazily and become so cruel to each other.

this film has told us something and reminded us something that we should never judge other people with different races. but it certainly a box office disaster.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:


Author: Lessismooore from Egypt
27 November 2013

This movie is representing the real Arab Muslims, unlike other American movies showing to the world that Muslims are just a bunch of terrorists, which is a big misleading as our religion Islam is originally against terrorism. Islam is prompting people for love, help, work and live, exactly like what mentioned generally in the movie.

We need more movies like this one to show the world the real Islam specially the Arab Muslims.

Special thanks to Khaled El Nabawy and the rest of the crew for this great movie. and I wish this movie to be nominated for international awards.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A contemporary drama about immigration with a rather banal and simplistic storyline.

Author: Peter Pluymers ( from Kortessem, Belgium
18 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Terrorists don't get lawyers."

"The Citizen" is the story of a Syrian immigrant Ibrahim Jarrah, born in Lebanon, who had to move in the Middle East a few times due to the Lebanese civil war and the invasion of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait. He was fortunate to win a "Green Card" in the U.S. Greencard lottery and thus find happiness in the U.S. and pursue the American dream. He arrives on 10 September 2010, one day before disaster strikes. Ibrahim claims he's not born for happiness. He's amazed about the fact that he has won a "Green Card". However,he doesn't realize what's hanging over his head.

It's not exactly a happy movie and you will be discouraged in Ibrahim's place. That a man sometimes experiences some setbacks in his life is perfectly normal. But in this film it's just an accumulation of problems and it becomes such a misery that you surely would start doing something wrong. If I was him, I would have turned my back to the U.S. immediately. Ibrahim is an example of perseverance and conviction. If the saying "It's dogged that does it" doesn't exist in Syria, then they could include it in a book about proverbs with a reference to him. His persistence to succeed as a businessman in the U.S. and eventually acquire the status of an American citizen is admirable.

Khaled Nabawy, an Egyptian actor, plays the role of Ibrahim in a brilliant way. A naive young man who is friendly, has charisma and a charming personality. A good Samaritan from the Middle East who always sees the positive side in everyday things and accepts the way things happen to him. A man who wants to fulfill his dream by planting a good deed every day, as he says. "Everything happens for a reason-I just do not know the reason yet." His personality and appearance immediately wipes all prejudices about Muslims from the table.

And that's the biggest obstacle that he encounters on his way to citizenship. The impact of the terrorist attack on the "Twin Towers". Automatically he's looked at with suspicion, and he's the victim of prejudice and discrimination. All the evidence pleads against him: his cousin doesn't show up at his arrival and he tells a lie about where he's staying that night, subsequently it seems that his nephew had contacts with those who are responsible for these attacks, his last name is the same as one of the terrorists and he was filmed during an anti-Bush demonstration where he participated in chanting slogans. The heroic act he performed by defending a Jewish young man who was beaten up by a group of skinheads, doesn't change the fact that he's still seen as a threat to the country, after which he institutes legal procedures against his mandatory deportation. That's how the movie started anyway.

Despite the excellent acting performance of Khalid and Agnes Bruckner, the cute girl named Diane who Ibrahim helped in the beginning and who became his refuge and guardian, it's still a dull film with a bunch of clichés. Eventually it just feels like a weekend movie of which a lot have been created already in the past. Such a weekend movie with a moral and social message about how someone gets back on top despite all the trouble he went through and succeeds in his preconceived plan. The end was a fairytale monstrosity. Spontaneously I started to roll my eyes until they looked in the direction of Mecca. A kind of Cinderella but then interpreted by a Muslim with his sweets transformed into a beauty of a car in front of a respectable house, with his lovely wife (You really can't guess who that'll be) and a cute little son.

Then there were also some small things I found rather bizarre. Ibrahim totally didn't know how his cousin ended up in the U.S.. Yet this cousin had to pick him up. I would have obtained some information about him before I arrived there. And not even once during his entire stay he tried to figure out where this cousin lives and what the reason was for not showing up. I find that rather odd. And the fact that he was talking to a classmate during a coffee and popped the big question after five minutes, I found laughable. And finally I thought it was fairly simplistic how he could put that lawyer in his place while he was still following an English course for God's sake.

It seems it's based on testimonies of people from the Middle East about their experiences after the attacks of 9/11. The way it affected their daily lives and how suddenly the American citizens had another view of them. Ibrahim was also seen as an invader and a threat after the events. "The citizen" is a contemporary drama about immigration with a rather banal and simplistic storyline.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: rhondasmit from US
26 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This review contains SPOILERS.

This should have been exactly the type of movie I could love, but sadly it shows great talent only in consistently just missing the mark. The premise of the movie is instantly engaging and thought provoking; a Syrian immigrant arrives in NYC on Sept. 10th 2001. How will he deal and be dealt with after the next day?

As a naturalized citizen myself, I also expected a memory jog, what my first impressions of the US were, how they differed from my expectations, what shocked me, what surprised me, what made me fall in love with the country, and what are its flaws, strengths, etc... Changing one's citizenship (out of conviction) is a profound action, something that is not at all addressed in this movie.

Immediately after arriving in NYC, Ibrahim is on his own; his cousin never shows up at the airport to pick him up. And this is where the film begins to derail. Ibrahim does not take a cab to his cousin's house. He gets a cheap room, and tours the city with a chance acquaintance - the quintessential skinny blonde chick - after giving her shelter in his room. Now after a transatlantic flight, I first need a clean bathroom, then maybe a shower, some food and a bed. But fine, maybe he's made of different stuff. Still, we do not see NYC through his eyes for the first time. There is a phony scene where they encounter an anti-Bush rally, and Ibrahim chants along with the crowd. It doesn't feel true/genuine at all. Visitors tend to be polite on their first day in a new country.

There is a touching 'almost' moment in those first scenes: When he offers the overpriced bottle of water, that he had denied himself. That felt real. But what could have been good insights in a culture clash moment or true chemistry between the leads never develop.

Instead 9-1-1 happens, the lead draws suspicion, is imprisoned, released 6 months later, and reunites with - the blonde chick?! That's a bit difficult to swallow.

His chance encounters with other people lead to a job, more chance encounters, all designed to show that doing good will be rewarded. This Arab Pollyanna stuff is so heavy-handed and implausible that it feels like an after-school special.

So then I briefly hoped that this would be a "is he a terrorist or an innocent?" type thriller. But the movie didn't go there either. Instead it followed a lukewarm middle path, that ultimately led to a "Hollywood" Happy ending - without satisfaction.

Here are some of the things that bothered me: -Ibrahim's English starts out too good. I've been there, and in spite of having had English classes for years - that's not reality. His hard luck case should have been reflected in his accent and mannerisms. -There is never a real explanation why Ibrahim wants to be a US citizen. (Convictions?) -For a business major selling cars in NYC is a real bad plan to success. Why does he stay? -Where oh where is that cousin of his? Why do they never meet? No visits? Ever??? -We see Ibrahim pray once, only. That should be an either/or: either pray the requisite times or don't be religious. I know Muslims of the former and latter kind, but none like Ibrahim. -Not once is he at the unemployment office, social services, etc. -Ibrahim sees girl, proposes. Really?!? Again, there is no chemistry between them. -No good Lebanese food in NY? -Mickey is an accountant... of course. As soon as he tells his life story, you know the ending. Yes, sure, all homeless people have an education in the US. -Ibrahim lives with blonde for what... months, years? Sleeping on the couch. What does she do, anyhow? Why no boyfriend for her? -All the criminals (bureaucrats, robbers, and skinheads) are stereotypes. And the lawyer has a weird British accent? ... and so on.

What I didn't see was: -Any real emotion dealing with 9-1-1, other than Mo's instant fear. Where is the contrast of how citizens versus new arrivals see this? Is there understanding for the terrorists, shame, horror, what? None of this is explored. Not even Blondie says a word about it. -Any discussion between blonde girl and Ibrahim about faith/cultural differences, any attraction/sexual tension, courtship, expectations. Nothing. It's a vacuum. -A reason Ibrahim wanted citizenship, other than avoiding deportation.

I want a do-over; this could have been a good movie.

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Far and away the worst movie I've seen in the last several years

Author: danl0134-1 from United States
8 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Browsing through choices of films to watch on Netflix the other night, I came across this title which had an intriguing summary. Essentially, what it's like for a Middle-Eastern immigrant in a post 9-11 New York City. You would think this could be a compelling film, but it falls flat on its face in just about every category. I'm pretty shocked by the average of 7 or so here on IMDb and wondering if the people that rated this film past a 4 or so worked on marketing it or something, as it's seriously "Razzy" worthy.

Let's start first with the writing. The Trite. That's about as much as I can say. Our protagonist, Ibrahim, is an unrealistically naive do-gooder from a war-torn Lebanon who arrives in the U.S. on September 10, 2001. You can pretty much predict the plot points from here on: tragedy strikes NYC, hero is unfairly imprisoned, subsequently released, is a victim of racism, gets threatened to be deported, etc. etc. This could all be fine if not for the completely wooden and canned dialogue that occurs between the film's characters. Most of the people in this film are "good" people but there's no chemistry between anyone. Things just happen, for almost no reason.

Take for example a scene halfway through the film in which a Jewish man responds to a street musician with "Happy Hanukkah" when said street performer says "Merry Christmas" at the end of his performance. Within seconds, a group of people appear out of nowhere to beat the Jewish man up, calling him a kike. Thank goodness Ibrahim is there to teach the punks a lesson and he saves the Jewish man's life. This leads to Ibrahim becoming a "Hero" in NYC and having his picture plastered on a popular newspaper.

As a Jewish person who has lived in big bad cities his entire life, I found this scene entirely implausible. This kind of thing doesn't happen in the real world, ever. First of all, most modern (reform) Jewish people are happy to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays", really, we don't care. Hanukkah is certainly not a very important holiday relative to other Jewish holidays, so it's all in good fun. Secondly, a group of thugs is unlikely to beat someone up for almost no reason at all in a public setting like this. The whole thing just felt inorganic and bizarre, coming out of left field.

The film is filled with scenes like this.

In another scene, Ibrahim has taken a fellow Lebanese woman out on a date. After about 5 minutes of conversation, he brings up marriage. I understand different cultures have different customs regarding marriage, but there was almost no chemistry between these two and the scene felt ultra creepy and awkward. That and he's also living with a woman who he's obviously going to end up with by the film's end.

Another scene involves Ibrahim and Mikey, a drunk who ultimately betrays Ibrahim sharing a moment outside of the gas station where he works. Ibrahim talks of living out of his car in Kuwait. Mikey compares his experience being homeless in NYC. "These streets will tear you apart" he explains.


Please, be more trite. The film is riddled with cheese like this throughout. Did the writer read the script before starting filming? Did the writer come close to experiencing anything portrayed in this film? Everything felt so disconnected and insincere.

I could go on and on about how much of an abomination this film is. It's truly horrid. The choice of music (upbeat girl pop throughout), the bland cinematography, the poor performances.

The reason why I took time out of my day to write this review is that it's truly sad this film turned out the way it did. With such a compelling subject one could make an incredible film. Instead "The Citizen" is like watching a Capra film that is devoid of any joy, warmth, or depth.

Avoid at all costs, or watch to learn how to not make a movie.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

So cliché'...

Author: buiger from Monaco
15 September 2014

Just your run-of-the-mill, feel-good, do-good Hollywood presentation where everybody is such an incredibly good Samaritan and the only bad guys are the psychopaths running the US government (only when a Republican is President though, otherwise they all become good Samaritans too, get Nobel prizes, etc.)

Such simplistic movies distorting the truth are bad enough when they are made by Americans who can be seen as entitled to criticize their own government, however blatantly wrong they may be, but it leaves a sour taste in the mouth coming from a Syrian director...

P.S. The European intelligentsia will love this movie! I am surprised it didn't win the Golden Palm in Cannes...

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10 out of 27 people found the following review useful:


Author: vv-web from Lebanon
14 November 2013

this movies is the best Arab life story in USA i ever see. it's really important to understand that not all Arab immigrant or Muslim are terrorist , we all humans live in same planet , respect each other and religion . I don't care what other's believes or what's their religion as long as they are good to me i'll be good to them and even better . I hope that someday people start respect each other for their moral not for their skin or religion .I'ts great movie for you Khaled el Nabawi you did great . this movies is the best Arab life story in USA i ever see this movies is the best Arab life story in USA i ever see this movies is the best Arab life story in USA i ever see this movies is the best Arab life story in USA i ever see

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