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Reluctant Fundamentalist, The


Stars: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Martin Donovan, Chris Smith, Sarah Quinn

Director: Mira Nair

Ahmed, who sprang to prominence last year in Shifty, confidently handles his biggest role to date as a Pakistani youth, Changez Khan, who, after university education in America, moves swiftly into a top corporate position as a business analyst.

9/11 and the Twin Towers attacks, however, change everything: Changez finds himself undergoing full body searches at customs, is hauled off the street by police while just walking along, and falls out with his photographer girlfriend (Hudson, looking too old for her role), niece of Changez' firm's founder, which is hardly surprising after she launches an exhibition entitled 'I had a Pakistani man once'.

Back in Pakistan for his sister's wedding, Changez has soon grown a bristly moustache and beard, and the writing is on the wall. Tired of closing businesses and putting people out of work, Changez snubs his mentor (Sutherland) and returns to Pakistan as a rabble-rousing college professor.

We meet him being 'interviewed' by an American journalist (Schreiber), although the hidden agenda of the occasion places both men in danger, as an American diplomat is at that moment being held hostage by militants.

The extremely well-made film is not without its faults: there are lulls towards the end, as characters stare into space, and the photographic exhibition is a plot device that should have been aborted on conception. But the plot remains absorbing, and Ahmed provides it with a solid centre. Food for thought here, if with no real solutions in sight.

David Quinlan

USA/UK 2012. UK Distributor: Mara Films. Colour (unspecified).
128 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 06 May 2013