Review: Just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks left the world on either side of a widening chasm, Changez is a man torn between his Great American Dream and the call of his homeland. He, however, has been forced to choose between the East and the West which leads Changez (Riz Ahmed) into an exile in his own country, Pakistan. Having forfeited the pursuit of living his dream, he chooses to become a bearded yet charismatic teacher beloved by all his students at the University. What remains to be seen is if he is also a terrorist. Mira Nair, director of films with pressing issues, takes us on a long and rewarding ride in The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Despite the film’s story being as simple as it could’ve been, the point of contention remains rather confused ’cause it is difficult to gauge why the protagonist, a fierce professional suddenly becomes disillusioned and returns home.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist begins with an American journalist, later revealed to be a CIA agent called as Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) who interviews the now suspected professor, Changez (Riz Ahmed), in a student café in Pakistan. Lincoln initially pretends that this one-on-one interview is for an article he is working on, but sooner than later Changez realizes that he is actually being pumped for information regarding the kidnap of an American professor.
For an inexplicable reason Changez decides to confide in Lincoln with his entire life story, hence making the film a series of flashbacks, returning to the interview now and then.
On the whole, the film shall work well as a bold story based on culture-clashes, as a character study however, it’s confused and may not impress the audience who’ve also read the novel written by Mohsin Hamid.