The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

(2012)

Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson star in this paranoid thriller following a Pakistani man who, fresh from Princeton University and ready to chase glory on Wall Street, is caught in a cultural divide after New York's Twin Towers are attacked. His American Dream slips into nightmare: wrongfully arrested, strip-searched, interrogated, and transformed from a well-educated, upwardly mobile businessman to a scapegoat and perceived enemy. Based on the best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid.

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Flicks Review

Is it ever good to see a film when you already know the book? Mohsin Hamid’s bestseller is an alluring, ambiguous novel set in New York and Lahore straddling the world-changing 9/11 events. This film version morphs its uncertainties into big screen clichés.... More

The point-of-view of the book cleverly deposes the US from its default moral guardian position to one of self-serving overseer, but the film sadly reinstates it to an omnipotent role. Familiar symbols of the war on terror are shoehorned into the movie, such as the overzealous detainment of a bearded Muslim and a bizarre action sequence in the rushed denouement, which feel like they are there to pander to American audiences. The worst offence is Kate Hudson unconvincingly playing serious in a brown wig.

What saves the film is the knockout turn by lead Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) who is slight and charismatic, with an almost regal demeanour to match his character Changez’s staggering intellect. The unravelling of Changez’s American dream in the context of a world in turmoil is taut and compelling, and succeeds in bringing the essence of the book to the screen. His insight into life in Pakistan compared to the cut and thrust of corporate New York, paired with the rich cinematography of the Lahore scenes make the film worth watching. Just let the sensationalised facepalm ending wash over and turn to the book for a more fulfilling reading of the complexities of this globalised yet fragmented world.Hide


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The Press Reviews

55% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • This might be the best week for The Reluctant Fundamentalist to open or the worst, but the timing doesn’t matter when the powder is damp. Full Review

  • Deliberately ambiguous, The Reluctant Fundamentalist provides just enough answers while leaving us with more than enough questions. It's a film that demands discussion afterward. Full Review

  • Ahmed excels and the set-up is compelling but ultimately this is middle rank stuff from the Monsoon Wedding director. Full Review

  • An intriguing film about the blowback involved when melting-pot America goes to war. Full Review

  • The tense dialogue between East and Post post-9/11 is turned into a tense, often gripping duet between a young Muslim professor and American reporter. Full Review

  • Boosted by a terrific lead turn from Riz Ahmed. Full Review

  • Ticking-time-bomb suspense is not Nair’s forte, so she relies on Michael Andrews’s Middle East–inflected score to do most of the heavy lifting in the present-day scenes, which feel shapeless and perfunctory. Full Review

  • Get past the starchy title and you’ll find a compelling tour through noughties history with an admirably international outlook. Be prepared, though: this is a film that takes its time… Full Review

  • Mira Nair’s latest immigrant saga saddles itself with a laborious narrative structure and half-baked thriller elements in a misguided attempt to open up what should be an intimate, introspective story. Full Review

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