peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2013 05 26 TheReluctantFundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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The freebie ticket from my Palace Cinemas club membership has been burning a hole in my pocket for months now, and this movie, even if it was likely mediocre, was the first to tempt me in that time. The 9.15pm session at the Chauvel was empty save one other soul, and we got served up a pile of ads and a singular short in cold theatre number two.

Mira Nair also directed The Namesake, and this is a similar journeyman tale: a young Pakistani goes to the U.S. to be trained up as a financial engineer while his family continues with their traditional life near the top of the post-colonial heap, albeit with diminishing means.

It is quite different to the book, though better than those reviews led me to expect. I did not really understand why the conversation moves amongst locations in the tea house, and I feel a bit robbed that they did not set it in the markets of old Lahore. The pivotal moment is toned down to a smile and a less triumphal "awe at arrogance brought low". The lead actor (Riz Ahmed) is great, despite his irritating if apt Americanisms (fist pumping, histrionics at the exhibition), but otherwise the actors flail around. Kate Hudson's Erica is weird as she tries to play a twenty-something without much success, and the changed nature of her bereavement robs her of pathos; her blubbing after the exhibition is risibly fake. Also she doesn't disappear. Kiefer Sutherland is simply not good. Liev Schreiber has yet to recover from Wolverine; I kept wondering where his red teeth and claws had gotten to. Martin Donovan does almost nothing to earn his credit.