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    November 2, 2013


    The world we are living in today is still pretty much shaken by the 9/11 event. The tragedy makes people and their government around the world to live in fear, occasionally in paranoia and suspicious, more susceptible to international violence, war and racial discriminatory. But on whose and what war are we really engaging? How are the faces of our enemy looks like today? How do we choose sides? And what fundamentalism lines do we live for? Critically acclaimed director Mira Nair presents her own adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s best-selling novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” which is about diversity, fundamentalism, as well as the social and religious dilemma in picking sides. It tries to examine how the 9/11 changes the life of a Western-oriented young Muslim and eventually leading him to draw back the fundamental lines between economic and religious empowerment.

    Changez was raised as a pro-Western, upper-class Pakistani whose American dream brought him into capitalism, eventually working his way up as an economic analyst under the mentorship of Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland). Things change when a terrorist attack on World Trade Center moved him into questioning his own values and fundamentalism. The trip to Istanbul for a closing settlement of a local publisher knocks him all over, triggering a swift of change in his head. When an American professor Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson) was kidnapped in Lahore, journalist and CIA informer Bobby Lincoln (Live Schreiber) is sent to a cafe to interview Rainier’s colleague Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), a leading pro-Islamic intellectual suspected to involve in the kidnapping. With clock ticking and the surrounding atmosphere tenses up, Bobby presses Changez to reveal the location of Rainier but only to learn that there are so much more in common in between them.

    I like Mohsin Hamid’s work which has been described as the most defining one of this century. While it is difficult to judge if this movie does any justice to the author’s brilliant work, Nair repairs this tame and less cohesive political thriller movie with exploiting motives but also moving and accurately represented. Those who have read the novel will find huge chunk of the thrilling aspects of the story been downsized. The plot  is rearranged into a routinely interview-based story that comes as basic as tearing down one of the reference strips from “Zero Dark Thirty” - of terrorism. While handled with ambitious scope of storytelling, the unfortunate result is still imminent that the plot is still plodding and uninteresting at times.

    While the plot may not be appealing to the general mass and tends to miss the flow, Mira Nair is still able to coat the movie with effectively portrayal and envisioned of the concepts through a delicate and delightful cultural senses with beautiful Urdu-English screenplay. Michael Andrew’s musical score is well-ravished with strong Pakistani’s flavour to accompany strings of provocative and thoughtful dialogues and scenes. Despite the presence of Hollywood heavyweights like Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson; Riz Ahmed single-handedly carries the whole movie on his shoulder with magnificent talent. The only problem in the impressive casting is the fact that Kate Hudson is totally miscast.

    In the end, the movie successfully delivers the potent messages from the novel effectively, but fails to incite a continuous interest to sustain and to engage the audience. Even at its best, this is still far from Mira Nair’s best works like “Monsoon Wedding” or “Salaam Bombay!”

    "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" stars Riz Ahmed ("Closed Circuit"), Liev Schreiber ("Defiant") and Kate Hudson ("Almost Famous"), presented by IFC Films and Golden Screen Cinemas, and directed by Mira Nair ("Monsoon Wedding") from screenplay by William Wheeler and Rutvik Oza with story by Mohsin Hamid and Ami Boghani. The movie is rated 18 and is available at Golden Screen Cinema International Screens since October 24, 2013.

    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 14.8/20.0

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