Film Review: THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (directed by Mira Nair / US premiere at Tribeca Film Festival)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 22, 2013

in Film

THE RELUCTANT FILMMAKERS

Director Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist tells of how Changez (Riz Ahmed), a young Pakistani, goes from being an ambitious, pro-American executive at an elite Wall Street financial firm to a college professor at a Pakistani university Dmitry Zvonkov's Stage and Cinema film review of THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST.who criticizes US policy and may possibly be involved with terrorists. This thriller disguised as an issue film, though well crafted, lacks substance in the extreme and offers nearly no insights into its subjects. William Wheeler’s script,  is typical Hollywood fare made up of well-structured blocks of banality. Despite Ms. Nair’s seeming effort to try and infuse her movie with authenticity, very few moments in it feel genuine. Instead we get a parade of the standard archetypes: the burnt-out, hash-smoking formerly idealistic Dmitry Zvonkov's Stage and Cinema film review of THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST.but now cynical American reporter living in Pakistan (Liev Schreiber); the protagonist’s art-photographer girlfriend (Kate Hudson); the boss who is hard on the surface but has a heart of gold (Kiefer Sutherland); the wise old publisher who calmly drinks tea and chain smokes as he’s being swept into extinction by Wall Street (the mesmerizing Haluk Bilginer); and the profit-driven protagonist’s traditionalist poet father (Om Puri). It goes on and on.

The script makes a few reasonably worthwhile observations, such as how differently we behave when we actually see the people affected by our actions, as well as comparing wholesale restructuring to acts of terrorism. But these end up feeling more like intellectual asides than explored themes. There is an interesting idea Dmitry Zvonkov's Stage and Cinema film review of THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST.lurking under the surface of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, it being that many people carry within them, whether in plain view or tucked away in the subconscious, the notion not so much that America had 9/11 coming but something more along the lines of: “Well, the US does whatever it wants anywhere it wants and to whomever it wants, what did they expect was going to happen?” Unfortunately, the filmmakers seem timid when it comes to this subject, broaching it but never exploring it to any satisfying degree.

Dmitry Zvonkov's Stage and Cinema film review of THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST.

photos © Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
IFC Films
USA – 2012 – Color – 128 min.
US premiere at Tribeca Film Festival
for screening times, visit Tribeca

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