Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion

“Elio Petri's most compelling films are social satires played out as genre pieces. . . . Citizen, a potent study of power as pathology, is his most successful use of the highly marketable suspense-thriller form. Its protagonist is a psychopathic police chief, an antihero who reflects Fascist ideals that harken back to Il Duce. . . . He cuts the throat of his masochistic mistress, then deliberately plants clues that implicate himself to prove that he's entirely above suspicion . . . the man thinks he can commit any crime he wants. . . . The film is dominated by the mesmerizing performance of Gian Maria Volonté. . . . Hardly ever offscreen, he struts through the entire movie-nattily dressed, smirky, charismatic, simultaneously handsome and repellent as Petri's visually flamboyant film turns into a heady mix of Marx, Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and Brecht, with a bit of Dashiell Hammett thrown into the blender.”

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