Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - C

Citizen X Movie Review

chikatilo burakov fetisov gerolmo

The story of Russian murderer Andrei Chikatilo and the 52 people he killed may have been too horrifying for the big screen, too horrifying and too difficult to access. No one except criminologists and scientific researchers wants to get inside the mind of such a man, and Soviet Russia denied he even existed between 1982 and 1990. The investigator assigned to the case is Dr. Viktor Burakov (Stephen Rea), whose dedication to stopping Chikatilo's deadly spree more than makes up for the fact that there is no genius lurking beneath his untidy exterior. Dr. Burakov's greatest ally is Colonel Fetisov (Donald Sutherland), a bureaucrat who IS a genius, especially when it comes to working within a flawed system that's staggering under the weight of a myriad of excuses and denials. Colonel Fetisov knows what Dr. Burakov does not, that the search for Chikatilo will be delayed and hampered at every turn by officious bureaucrats trying to protect themselves and bolster their reputations, at the expense of dozens of innocent lives. One such bureaucrat is Soviet official Bonarchuk (Joss Ackland) who states categorically that only Western societies are plagued by serial killers. He orders a policeman (John Wood) after his own heart to look for Citizen X among identifiable homosexuals and perverted criminals. Burakov and Fetisov are convinced that the killer is a more nondescript type since his youthful victims trusted him well enough to follow him into the woods where most of the bodies are discovered. Jeffrey DeMunn plays Chikatilo as the sort of man you might not notice in a group of three, a wimp who'd never pick on someone his own size; he only has the power to hurt the extremely young and vulnerable. After eight long years and the collapse of Soviet Russia, Chikatilo is finally placed in custody. In one long sequence with the skillful Russian psychiatrist played by Max von Sydow, the agonized Chikatilo finally confesses all. It is no comfort to the families or to the audiences who watch Citizen X, but the investigation clearly forced the Russian people (and international viewers) to see Death with a human face. Performances throughout are immaculate, particularly Sutherland's brilliant work as Colonel Fetisov. Chris Gerolmo's incisive script and careful direction make it possible for us to watch this horrifying nightmare without turning away. And Gerolmo's understated lucidity may help more than one viewer look twice before s/he follows a kind stranger ANYWHERE.

1995 (R) 100m/C Stephen Rea, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey DeMunn, John Wood, Joss Ackland, Max von Sydow, Ralph Nossek, Imelda Staunton, Radu Amzulrescu, Czeskaw Grocholski, Ion Caramitru, Andras Balint, Tusse Silberg; D: Chris Gerolmo; W: Chris Gerolmo; C: Robert Fraisse; M: Randy Edelman. VHS

City of Hope Movie Review [next] [back] Citizen Ruth Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or