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TIFF Capsule Review: 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'

Indiewire By Kaleem Aftab | Indiewire September 13, 2012 at 8:59AM

Adapting Moshin Hamid’s novel was always going to prove tricky given that the “action” takes place over the course of one evening in a café in Lahore. The book follows a conversation between a Pakistani university professor who post-9/11 has turned his back on a successful Manhattan-based finance career and an ambiguous American stranger. “Monsoon Wedding” director Mira Nair uses the book’s hint that this mystery American is a C.I.A. agent as her main plot device, turning the observational novel into a full-blown thriller. Riz Ahmed delivers a breakthrough performance as Changez Khan. In flashback we see him wowing a financier (Kiefer Sutherland) while interviewing for a job at a management consultancy. Despite his great analytical mind, his choice for bed partner, contemporary artist Erica (Kate Hudson), doesn’t show much foresight. The main thrust of the narrative focuses on American journalist and undercover C.I.A agent Bobby (Liev Schreiber) meeting with Changez to determine whether he has become a recruiter for Al Qaeda. The thriller component builds tension but also makes this 9/11 tale told from the other side very conventional. Criticwire grade: B [Kaleem Aftab]
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Adapting Moshin Hamid’s novel was always going to prove tricky given that the “action” takes place over the course of one evening in a café in Lahore. The book follows a conversation between a Pakistani university professor who post-9/11 has turned his back on a successful Manhattan-based finance career and an ambiguous American stranger. “Monsoon Wedding” director Mira Nair uses the book’s hint that this mystery American is a C.I.A. agent as her main plot device, turning the observational novel into a full-blown thriller. Riz Ahmed delivers a breakthrough performance as Changez Khan. In flashback we see him wowing a financier (Kiefer Sutherland) while interviewing for a job at a management consultancy. Despite his great analytical mind, his choice for bed partner, contemporary artist Erica (Kate Hudson), doesn’t show much foresight. The main thrust of the narrative focuses on American journalist and undercover C.I.A agent Bobby (Liev Schreiber) meeting with Changez to determine whether he has become a recruiter for Al Qaeda. The thriller component builds tension but also makes this 9/11 tale told from the other side very conventional. Criticwire grade: B [Kaleem Aftab]

This article is related to: Reviews, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Toronto International Film Festival, Mira Nair