Civic Duty: idle brain, Devil’s playground

(Canscene) — Canadians, at least, seem to be waking up to the necessity of acting judiciously when it comes to suspecting, investigating and prosecuting supposed terrorists.

That’s why a new film from an independent producer in the United States is well worth a visit; chooses as its subject a plot that in addition to being suspenseful challenges values based on media reporting and asks: who is the terrorist and who the defender of his rights?

It’s Civic Duty, staring Peter Krause of Six Feet Under fame and is directed by Jeff Renfroe.

Krause gives a compelling performance as an out-of-work corporate accountant. An idle brain becomes the devil’s playground. With time on his hands and his mind stuffed with alarmist commentaries and George W. Bush press conferences he begins to suspect a neighbour of middle Eastern appearance.

The young man, played by Egyptian superstar Khaled Naga occupies a sparsely furnished apartment and to Krause, his movements are perceived as building up to an act of terrorism. As curiosity turns to stalking, Krause’s mind descends into paranoia, but enough said…

I hate spoilers: statements whether verbally or in print that give away the plot of any film, play or book. Leave it to me to say that this is one of those rare films that has excellent suspense, good characterization and has something to say.

Terri Matchett as Krause’s wife and Richard Schiff (whom you’ll remember as Toby Ziegler in The West Wing) as an FBI agent are the other main players in the low-budget but tightly made Civic Duty.

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