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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist - 8/6/2013 2:49:17 PM   
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist - 8/6/2013 2:49:17 PM   

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In the wake of the Boston bombings Mira Nair’s topical political drama arrives in cinemas featuring a standout performance from Riz Ahmed, a British actor in the central role. Adapted from Mohsin Hamid’s novel of the same name, the story focuses on a young Pakistani man Changez (Ahmed) who sets out to achieve the American dream in pre 911 America only to bear witness to the dreams nightmare and the emergence of xenophobia after the planes hit the twin towers.

In some ways Nair’s latest film continues the themes explored in her excellent 2006 film The Namesake, detailing the Americanization of a young man at the sacrifice of his cultural identity. Here Princeton, Wall Street, a white girlfriend and money represent the dream. The story takes place amidst a kidnapping of an American citizen by extremists. Changez a Muslim relays his story to an American journalist Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) in a café in Pakistan. Lincoln might be working for the CIA. The films structure is set in motion via flashbacks. The central mystery remains open, what does Changez believe in? Who is he? What motivates him? Is he an extremist or a true lover of America?

Nair’s film is most compelling tracking Changez rise to the top of Wall Street. Initially embraced in the West he gravitates seamlessly to downsizing companies and maximizing profit margins as a true capitalist. He sees America as the land of opportunity giving him “an equal chance to win.” He has the admiration of his mentor Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland) who is himself an outsider. Cross declares “you have a gift for this a very lucrative gift.” On his rise he meets the attractive photographic artist Erica (a miscast Hudson). He leaves his old life behind consisting of a poet father and a loving mother and sister. He seems to have it all then the planes hit the twin towers. Suddenly outside his insular Wall Stree

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