London Film Festival 2012 – day eight: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Thursday 18th October, 7.30pm – Empire at Leicester Square
Sunday 21st October, 3.45pm – Rich Mix
Based on Mohsin Hamid’s novel of the same name, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a romance film masquerading as a political thriller directed by Mira Nair.
As a framing device, Changez (Riz Ahmed – Three Lions) is a young professor at the University of Lahore, whom has finally agreed to be interviewed by American reporter Bobby (Liev Schrieber- Scream, Salt). Changez tells Bobby the story of his life, starting in Lahore as a young man, his university days in America, working as a finical analyst on Wall Street to heading back to Pakistan.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist was always going to be a difficult to translate to the screen. As a first-person coming-of-age story connected to a third party, changing this into a objective narrative must have been a hard task. This leads to one of the central problems of the film, it doesn’t appear that Nair resolved the problem of what sort of film she was trying to make. The framing narrative seems to suggest a high-energy political thriller but the tale that Changez relates to Bobby is mainly an uninspiring romance. With so much going on everything feels a little underdeveloped, which, considering the films weighs in at over two hours is pretty poor. The seeds of interesting stories are here, but none of them receive enough nourishment to keep the audience interested.
The direction and cinematography are somewhat perfunctory. At one point the events of 9/11 are projected onto Changez face, it’s cheesy imagery and representative of the level of imagery used in the film. Kate Hudson’s role in the film diminishes the impact of the romantic strife. Riz Ahmed performs his role very well, it’s a good performance and he helps rescue the film.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist feels like a wasted opportunity. Most of the film feels like it is leading somewhere interesting but ultimately it doesn’t.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.