My Son The Fanatic Review

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Pakistani taxi-driver Parvez and prostitute Bettina find themselves trapped in the middle when Islamic fundamentalists decide to clean up their local town.


Screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, who gave us My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha Of Suburbia, looks finally to have blown his chances of making it as an after-dinner speaker on the Muslim Fundamentalist fund-raiser circuit with this acerbic study of familial breakdown and cultural intolerance. However, it shouldn't result in a fatwa, as Kureishi has restricted himself to a gentle satire at the expense of the spiritual hierarchy rather than going full out to consider either the basic tenets of the Islamic faith or their feasibility within an adopted environment.

Parvez (Puri) has been driving his cab around Bradford for 25 years and the fact that it has given his son (Akbar Kurtha) the wherewithal to become engaged to the Chief Constable's daughter more than compensates for the hardships he's endured. But when the boy throws everything away to join a strict Islamic set, Parvez (who wears his heritage lightly) is flummoxed and seeks solace in Bettina (Griffiths), his favourite among the local prostitutes.

Kureishi is less at home in Yorkshire than in the London suburbs and tends to overdo the references to early 60s grim-up-North movies. He also presents caricatures of the immigrant wife (Gopi Desai), the prosperous restaurateur (Harish Patel) and the arrogant German businessman (Skarsgard).

Yet in Parvez and Bettina he has created characters who are easy to care about, to the point that you end up feeling that they're entitled to their romance, even though it seems more convenient than convincing.

Director Udayan Prasad here reinforces the good impression made with Brothers In Trouble (a 1996 immigration drama), but it will be Kureishi who makes the headlines.