Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Release Date:  May 10, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber
Who to see it with: Anyone who loves good stories and mystery


The Reluctant Fundamentalist is based on a novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid from 2007.  Although the movie and the book differ in several respects, they both revolve around a conversation that takes place in a cafe in Pakistan.  In the movie, the main character (Riz Ahmed) is being interviewed by an American journalist (Liev Schreiber).  This interview relatively calm interview takes place as a growing crisis envelopes the surrounding area.  The story explores Ahmed's American experience and how, as a Pakistani man living in America, he was treated after 9/11.  You really experience everything that happened to him because of Ahmed's phenomenal performance.  He does an amazing job portraying a complicated character who is torn by his love for America and the injustices he experiences because of the climate after 9/11.  He also deals with reconciling his past and culture with the American dream.  The story jumps back and forth between the current interview and the events of the past.  This could have been a jarring and confusing experience but it's actually an enjoyable way to tell this complicated story.  

And speaking of the story, although it does an admirable job of exploring Ahmed's character and starts off strong, it begins to slow down in the middle.  There is an unnecessary romance that takes up a large part of the movie and, although it is supposed to be an important part of the plot, just  feels strange and unbelievable.  The film does lay some groundwork with Ahmed's changing character, but his eventual turn feels rushed and too convenient.  However, don't let these story problems prevent you from eventually seeing this movie.  The Reluctant Fundamentalist paints a picture of 9/11 America from a completely different perspective, one that is fascinating and valuable to explore.  And although it has its flaws, it's still something that should be seen.  It is one of those movies that stays with you after you leave the theater and keeps occupying your thoughts hours later.

Rent it.

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