Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Last night, we went to a preview screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012), a film based on the novel of the same name by Moshin Hamid. Billed as a hostage thriller with political undertones, we weren't entirely sure what to expect.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a real 'thinking' movie and one that is bound to start conversations that progress beyond the proverbial water cooler. Set in various international locations, we meet Changez, a young Pakistani man who moves to New York to take up a scholarship at Princeton, then pursue a stellar career on Wall Street. We follow his story for about 15 years, leading up to the present day. The clash of cultures that emerges is not necessarily as you'd expect.

A long time ago, someone told me that "the opposite of love is fear" - not hate, like most assume. I have thought about this a lot over the years and it was my recurring thought during the movie last night. Fear has a lot to answer for. We see how it drives discrimination, misinformation and irrational actions, bringing out primal instincts and prejudices that we may never have known we possess. We are shown how a terrorist can be made and the dreadful consequences than can result.

There are some twists that threaten to turn the tables. They show that success means different things to different people. More than anything, success is fleeting and only ever reflects circumstances in a current point in time. It can be snatched away in an instant. Also, not everyone gets to choose their sides in moral issues; sometimes their side is chosen for them. There are hints about the dangers of focusing exclusively on the fundamentals and losing sight of the bigger picture.

I was surprised to see that The Reluctant Fundamentalist didn't rate particularly well on either Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. Media reviews are also lukewarm. Sure, it covers some very ambitious content that I'd imagine is more fully explored in the novel (which I haven't read but have now added to my TBR list). It seems like the biggest criticism is that it has become a 'thinking' movie, rather than necessarily plot driven, which is precisely what I loved about it.

View the trailer or, better still, watch the movie and decide for yourself. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Rahul said...

Its a one in a million case. This is what every American/any other person would do when a person from a community attacks them.