Movie review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

By Sarah Lang

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Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed in 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'. Photo / Supplied
Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed in 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'. Photo / Supplied

Based on the excellent eponymous novel, this political thriller is set in 2011 as anti-government protests and police brutality flare in Lahore. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) brings just the right note of hard-done-by gravitas to the role of Changez, a young Pakistani professor and influential intellectual suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American academic. US journalist Bobby (Liev Schreiber), who finally lands an interview with Changez, isn't after a scoop but information to save the hostage's life. Instead, he gets Changez' life story. Their conversation is spliced with extended flashbacks to Changez' past as a Princeton-educated financial analyst chasing the American dream and a photographer called Erica (an almost-unrecognisable Kate Hudson). How did he get from then to now, there to here? It's obvious the answer has something to do with the treatment of Middle Easterners post-9/11 - and not just because director Mira Nair is known for exploring East/West relations. This beautifully acted film translates important questions from page to screen, such as whether binary distinctions between "us" and "them" could actually turn people into "them". However, the two-strand narrative dilutes any suspense and overly labours the comparison between the dual fundamentalisms of terrorism and capitalism.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Kate Hudson, Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Mira Nair
Running Time: 126 mins
Rating: M

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is out now.

- Herald on Sunday

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