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Based on the 2007 novel by Moshin Hamid, directed by Mira Nair, far exceeded the limited and problematic boundaries of the book; blatant honesty informs intelligent characters: flawed, wounded, irrevocably altered by heinous, untoward circumstances; Ms. Nair and fine acting gift viewers a raw, realistic, radical story of metamorphosis, indoctrination, transformation from the benign to “the reluctant fundamentalist” .

Riz Ahmed, as (“Changez (Urdu, Genghis) Khan”) a Pakistani-born, Princeton graduate) was molded for the role; beautiful, with a voice that could seduce Homer’s Sirens, even in the quietest moments his aura is positively, pungently  powerful.  “Changez” has it all: he is a wizard, soon-to-be “Master of the Universe” at a Wall Street Financial Firm; a gorgeous, talented girlfriend  “Erica”(a mature, dark-haired Kate Hudson); he is soaring, inebriated with the American fantasy, all highways gilded,  leading to the pot at the end of the rainbow, until 9/11/01, “the day the music died”.

The movie’s magic lies in the gradual demise of “Changez”; racial profiling at the airport,  shunned on the streets of his adopted and loved New York City, he slowly sinks into uncertainty, isolation; bearded, floundering, eventually looking for solace, solutions in Islam. No matter personal ethnicity, you understand his disillusionment and eventual choices.

The movie is a series of flashbacks: relayed by Changez to journalist “Bobby Lincoln” (a very seasoned portrayal by Liev Schreiber) in a dingy,  immaculate-challenged restaurant, in Lahore, Pakistan. Remarkable transitions, revelations, developments are tightly wrought, triggering unnerving, chilling tension, friction between the two men.

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”  raises a myriad of questions; minimal proselytization;  at its core is the quest to discover one’s true identity, acknowledge imperfections and ultimately in the words of Polonius “to thine own self, be true”.

Mira Nair’s film should be seen by all in these troubled times.


For Now………..Peneflix

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  1. Love the Review! Can the film live up to it? Hopefully, I will find out!

  2. So glad you liked it. I’m, looking forward to seeing this one.

  3. Excellent in depth review, Peneflix! Definitely a must see for our times

  4. I saw the film yesterday. It is haunting and reveals a thought process and an emotional reversal of a life’s dreams. It gave me an insight I had not thought about. Your review is stunning (as always).

  5. The richest instance of the latter is in the way it plays with the idea of fundamentalism itself. From the title, and from the increasingly tense atmosphere arising between Changez and his American listener, the expectation is that Changez is moving towards the revelation that he has gone, however “reluctantly”, all the way over to the dark side of Islamic fundamentalism, and is possibly, even as he speaks, orchestrating some Daniel Pearl-like execution of his perhaps literally captive audience. But in a neat – arguably too neat – reversal, it transpires that the real fundamentalism at issue here is that of US capitalism, specifically that practised by Changez’s former employer, Underwood Samson, whose motto, as they do their pitiless bit for globalisation, is “Focus on the fundamentals”. The subverted expectation very efficiently forces one to reconsider one’s preconceptions about such words and their meanings, and a point is duly scored for relativism.

  6. It’s good to read an article that so clearly has been written by an intelligent person. You are a very good writer. This is great.

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