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Citizen X
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10 from 16 votes
Release: 25 February 1995 (USA) /

Citizen X

Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama, History, Thriller
Director: Robert Cullen,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Based on the true story of a Russian serial killer who, over many years, claimed over 50 victims, mostly under the age of 17. In what was then a Communist state, the police investigations were hampered by bureaucracy, incompetence and those in power. The story is told from the viewpoint of the detective in charge of the case. Written by Rob Hartill

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Critic Reviews


I remember following the case of Andre Chicatillo in the newspapers while I was living in South Africa. They had photos of him sitting in his cage while being prosecuted in court. Not, as it turned out, to protect the court members, but to protect him from the public. This was fascinating, albeit morbid, reading. I later heard that a film had been made by HBO about the case, but it was made for American TV. Bummed! Strangely, CITIZEN X got a limited cinematic release in South Africa. I charged down to the local Ster Kinekor complex and duly bought a ticket (I was alone; my girlfriend at the time was only interested in the likes of STEEL MAGNOLIAS and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES). Wow! What a brilliant film. Why wasn't it released to a wider audience? Had it not been made for TV, it could have got an Oscar nomination or 2. There is no way to spoil the ending; who the killer is is never kept from the audience. Jeffrey DeMunn portrays a truly terrifying psycho. He is calm, downtrodden, considered a failure by his wife and subjected to constant ridicule and humiliation by his superiors at work. By committing these horrendous acts, he gets to feel strong, powerful.

Fighting to catch him against all odds is a pathologist, played to excellent turn by Stephen Rea, in one of his strongest performances. He must battle the snail-pace of Russian bureaucracy, the primitive resources he has at his disposal and (above all) the refusal by his superiors to acknowledge that the USSR even has a serial killer. The general in charge (Joss Ackland) says that serial killers are "a decadent, Western phenomenon". Only Donald Sutherland is willing to help, but his help must be under the counter. The ever-brilliant Max Von Sydow plays a Russian psychiatrist who breaks protocol and decides to help the investigators in their quest. It is the first time in Russian history that a shrink is used to build a profile of a serial killer still on the loose, and he has everything to lose if his involvement is made public.

CITIZEN X is brilliantly acted, well written and the music and editing only add to the tension and theme of the film. Excellent support from a horribly underused Imelda Staunton and a real sense of impending doom make CITIZEN X a film worth seeing. This was too good to be made for TV

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