The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)

7 May

the reluctant fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is exactly the kind of espionage flick I love – precisely because it isn’t one. Masquerading as an action-packed hostage drama, complete with kidnappings, snipers and special agents, I had set myself up to be thoroughly disinterested in what I predicted to be a tired tale of Pakistan versus the U S of A. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong about Mira Nair’s thrilling take on the well-loved novel by Mohsin Hamid.

Riz Ahmed is stunning as Changez Khan, a brilliant young man from a well-off family in Pakistan who heads off to America in early 2001 to make his fortune, only to end up wanted by American special forces. Of course, we all know the American trip is a doomed venture from the start, but the fact that the entire story is being relayed to a sceptical journalist (Liev Schreiber) back in Pakistan as a riot bubbles in the streets outside does not detract from its power. The ring composition captures interest to the very end; from the hopeful beginnings at Jim Cross’ (Kiefer Sutherland) cutthroat firm, through to the relationship with the tumultuous and indecisive Erica (Kate Hudson) every detail of Changez’ life steers us away from the sordid picture painted of the stereotypical anti-American activist.

Overall, all involved in The Reluctant Fundamentalist should be proud of their achievement. With just the right balance of dry wit, well-placed emotional scenes and the stark portrayals of the realities of conflict, the film carefully reacquaints us with the world we live in through the eyes of the misunderstood. This one is definitely worth spending a couple of hours of your time on.

By Nastassja Sheppard-Larsen

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