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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Civic Duty'
(Peter Krause, et al / DVD / R / (2006) 2007 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: An American accountant bombarded with cable news and the media's obsession with terrorist plots in the post 9-11 world, receives a jolt when an unattached Islamic graduate student moves in next door.

DVD Verdict: 'Civic Duty' is a 2006 film that deals with the sort of paranoid over-reaction to the terrorist attack that I had suspected might become commonplace. Terry Allen (Peter Krause) has just lost his job as an accountant and without work to keep his mind occupied he becomes obsessed with coverage of the War on Terror on cable television. Especially since a "Middle Eastern" looking young man (Khaled Abol Naga) has moved into an apartment that Terry can see from his window.

We already know that Terry is predisposed to see the worst in people after he cruelly points out to a smiling bank teller the idiotic redundancy of the term "ATM Machine." Like those strange little beings on those annoying television commercials, Terry stars off sour and then tries to be sweet. It is just that we never really buy it, any more than we can really believe that there is a terrorist in that other apartment. The more desperate Terry is to believe it, the more we resist the idea. But is the film just toying with us?

Ultimately, 'Civic Duty' is more about psychology than it is politics. Director Jeff Renfroe shoots scenes to enhance the idea of paranoia, while the screenplay by Andrew Joiner tries to keep Terry tottering on the fence as to whether he is right or if he is wrong. The epilogue to the film seems at first glance to be one last gambit on that idea of ambiguity, but if you keep a careful watch on Terry's left eye you can decode the final scene successfully. The DVD has the trailer for the film and that is it, which seems totally bizarre these days when most DVDs seem to have way too many extras. What this film is doing and what it has to say would seem worth pursuing a bit more, but apparently we are simply to watch 'Civic Duty' and come to terms with it on our own. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of just a Theatrical Trailer.