The Reluctant Fundamentalist

reluctant fundamentalistMira Nair’s 2012 film The Reluctant Fundamentalist takes on the huge task of explaining how profiling, patriotism, and xenophobia can lead people to take sides when perhaps all they really want to do is remain somewhere awkwardly in the middle between cultures. Riz Ahmed shines in the title role as Changez, a Pakistani wunderkind who gets an Ivy League education on a scholarship, lands a sweet job in a financial company in New York City and falls for an American girl. All that changes however after 9/11. Changez is targeted and suspected everywhere he goes. His privilege working for the firm doesn’t shield him from the racial profiling because of the color of his skin and the growth of his beard. Nair is a genius storyteller. The film is full of sumptuous music and images we have come to expect from the filmmaker. There is a lot of voice-over as Changez tells his story to journalist Bobby played by Liev Schreiber. His story is told in flashback as the two men talk over food at a student union in Pakistan. I don’t mind voice over but I know a few friends who feel it’s an easy way out from having to actually tell a story in pictures and action. The Reluctant Fundamentalist is not a perfect film, but it’s an important film. One that every American should watch. None of us are one thing. We are a combination of complicated beliefs and emotions. Having to take sides only continues to keep us apart from each other. Adapted from the novel by Mohsin Hamid, Nair makes a strong case for multiculturalism and embracing difference. She doesn’t bother tying up anything in a neat bow. The ending is neither hopeful nor tragic. It is more of the same. Violence continues, families mourn, and people play their roles. 4 out of 5 for The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

3 Responses to “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

  1. Uncle Barb Says:

    After watching last night, TG’s first comment was “Mira Nair is a GREAT film maker”. I agree. The richness of the settings is so vivid you can almost smell the food. This particular story did not grab me. I could not find compassion or empathy. We are surrounded by an insanely violent world. I just don’t want to see it anymore (but I will continue watching Homeland). I love Mira Nair’s film making, this story not so much.


  2. Uncle Barb Says:

    I forgot to mention my opinion of Kate Hudson. She is too self conscious to be an actor.


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