As engaging as the premise for The Reluctant Fundamentalist is, I am afraid it was made just a little too late for American audiences to care. There was a wave of post-9/11 dramas dealing with the aftermath of the tragic terrorist attacks, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist would have been a spectacular follow-up to those films, but instead comes when audiences seem to be straying further from this dark period of recent American history. That being said, director Mira Nair is able to breathe as much life as the narrative can hold with energetic filmmaking.
Adapted from the novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist tells the story of a Pakistani professor who the CIA suspects of involvement in the kidnapping of an American academic. A reporter (Liev Schreiber) is sent to interview Professor Changez (Riz Ahmed) in order to determine his involvement, and much of the film is flashbacks as the Pakistani man explains his journey to the American reporter.
There is a tense aspect in the storyline dealing with the mystery of Changez’ involvement in the kidnapping and the reporter’s ability to escape unharmed, but much of the movie deals with much more personal elements. We are told through flashbacks of the young ambitious journey Changez took to the
States, studying and eventually acquiring a desired
career on Wall Street before the attacks on the made the entire world
seem harsher. We watch as the city turns against Changez because of the way he
looks, and the way that it turns him into a bitter person. The main focus for
this alteration in his personality is shown through the devastation of two
significant relationships; the one he has with an American artist (Kate Hudson)
who uses him as the inspiration for her artwork, and his boss and mentor
(Kiefer Sutherland). United States
At times The Reluctant Fundamentalist is altogether engaging, though the pieces of the film don’t all seem to come together fluidly. It ends up feeling like a series of vignettes involving the same person, but some of the variation in the film’s mood shift too much for one film to contain. It attempts to be a drama, but at times has aspirations to be a thriller. These sequences aren’t bad, but don’t feel as though they belong in the same film as the rest.
The Blu-ray special features includes a making-of featurette and a trailer.
Entertainment Value: /10
Quality of Filmmaking: /10
Historical Significance: /10
Disc Features: /10