The Citizen

In the opening scene of this poignant 2016 drama, an African refugee who has lived in Budapest for years (first-time actor Marcelo Cake-Baly) fails an oral exam required for Hungarian citizenship. Determined to pass the next test, he pays for private lessons from a local teacher, a married woman about his age, and their intellectual bond evolves into romance. Other characters threaten their happiness, reminding us of the racism, both hidden and overt, that nonwhite immigrants face in majority-white countries. But what might have felt like a heavy-handed movie of the week instead seems natural and timely, largely because of Cake-Baly’s grounded performance; he infuses the role with genuine emotion drawn from his own refugee experience. Roland Vranik directed his own script. In Hungarian with subtitles.