Review: The Deportation of a Model Citizen

Written and directed by Jacob Thomas Pilgaard, co-written by Pernille Hyllegaard, two young police officers are to escort a well-integrated student to the airport where she is to be deported back to Syria, inspired by a true story. Starring: Thalita Beltrão Sørensen, Cecilie Elisabeth Bogø Bach, Tine Gotthelf, Mads Hjulmand, Joey Moe and Søren Vejby.

Stories of deportation and the constant struggle for people to seek asylum from their war-torn homes will be forever relevant with conflict constantly occurring around the world. However, it’s a story which can be viewed through many lenses and Jacob Thomas Pilgaard and Pernille Hyllegaard chose one of compassion. The Deportation of a Model Citizen teaches a lesson in seeing things through someone else’s eyes, to take a moment to appreciate what they’re going through and the unjust obstacles that they face. In doing so they create a moving story, one that cleverly relies on emotion and not on dialogue. It has no need to explicitly explain itself, it translates the bigger picture effortlessly through the strong atmosphere it builds throughout.

A big part of that is Pilgaard’s direction, there’s an almost coldness to the palette which is a wonderful reflection of the themes to the story. It dulls this world which Aida (Thalita Beltrão Sørensen) is being abruptly taken from, embracing the callousness of bureaucracy when it comes to immigration. However, it simultaneously holds a warmth through the vision it creates of the impact Aida has had on the community, and the relationships which she’s built. There’s a sensitivity to the aesthetic, a gentleness in how it approaches her story which nicely connects to her youth. It moves slowly but purposefully, continually adding to its emotional layers and atmosphere.

Thalita Beltrão Sørensen’s performance is bursting with that emotion, she contains a fantastic multitude of feeling, moving from the devastation to a bravery and resilience. She very quickly establishes what sort of person Aida is and that’s a brilliant way to introduce this story and to make it hit harder. She’s intensely sympathetic and will evoke a classic protective reaction from viewers. Joey Moe on the other hand has a polar opposite journey, introducing his character which such a brash and aggressive manner then slowly peeling back the layers to see the true person who lies beneath. Opening up the opportunity for a wonderful moment between the two of them as the story progresses.

The Deportation of a Model Citizen is a timely reminder of what is constantly at stake with countries holding strict immigration laws, sending people who could be a credit to their country back to a life of conflict and fear. It’s incredibly touching and does a fantastic job of bringing together the tone and aesthetic to fully grasp a hold on the themes at play. It’s led wonderfully by Thalita Beltrão Sørensen who gives a quietly affecting performance.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

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