Civic Duty Jeff Renfroe

Civic Duty Jeff Renfroe

What drives a seemingly normal man to the extreme recesses of paranoia? Civic Duty’s creators don’t have all the answers but are hell-bent on asking the question. Peter Krause stars as Terry Allen, an out of work accountant who spends far too much time absorbing the post-9/11 fear mongering of CNN and other terror-obsessed American media outlets. Referencing Hitchcock’s Rear Window, with unemployment as the crippling impetus for voyeurism, Terry begins a regular routine of window peeking at his new neighbour, an Islamic graduate student with modest living habits. As Terry’s fear grows, his otherwise healthy relationship with wife Marla (Keri Matchett) begins to suffer. Marla makes appeals to Terry’s sense of rationality but to no avail. He is gripped by what he feels is his civic duty: to protect his family and country at all costs. The front-end simmer of the film steadily escalates to an out of control boil with reason as the spill over by the tense climax. Krause is excellent, wearing every frayed nerve and ounce of moral turmoil plainly on his face, but Terry’s proximity to Six Feet Under’s Nate reveals Krause as primarily a personality star. Matchett and Richard Schiff, as FBI agent Tom Hilary, are reliably strong in supporting roles but it’s Khaled Abol Naga as the subject of Terry’s psychotic scrutiny who strikes an emotional live wire. At once sympathetic and suspicious, Naga’s portrayal of an Islamic student and potential terrorist refuses to pander to stereotypes, or to accept a victim’s position in the story. Like life, the situation is far more complicated and ambiguous, though a touch of clarification about Terry’s past would make everything easier to swallow. The only special feature is an interview with Peter Krause, discussing the film and emphasising his desire to be a part of projects that tackle controversial questions. (Christal)