Film review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (15)
Mira Nair's thoughtful drama takes a different angle from Zero Dark Thirty on the geopolitical fall-out from 9/11. Whereas Kathryn Bigelow's picture described a manhunt, this is more about the search for a man's soul.
Riz Ahmed convinces as Changez, the well-born son of a Punjab poet who comes to America and is "catapulted into privilege" – an Ivy League education, then a prestigious job as a company downsizer on Wall Street. It all changes after the Twin Towers go down, when being a Muslim in the paranoid aftermath is a cause for suspicion – strip-searched at customs, mistakenly arrested, abused. So much for the Land of the Free.
The story is recounted in flashback by Changez, now an academic back in Lahore, to an American journalist (Liev Schreiber) on the trail of a kidnapped professor. How deeply is this reluctant fundamentalist implicated in anti-American insurgency?
Nair, adapting from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid, draws a terrific performance from Ahmed as the divided hero, mild-mannered then warier by degrees. The story cleverly plots the way his allegiance shifts from capitalism to militancy, hinting that he might be exchanging one sort of fundamentalism for another.
One exceptional scene dramatises a crucial encounter between Changez and the head of a doomed publishing house, played, brilliantly, by Turkish theatre legend Haluk Bilginer. Not all of it is so compelling.
Kate Hudson as a troubled rich girl with a sideline in photo art looks more like a plot device than a character. But Nair keeps an honourable, even-handed line in this moral fable, and delivers her best work since Monsoon Wedding.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stephen Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’