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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

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Many curious minds have pondered the purpose of the rice paddy-like waterbodies that scallop the contour lines out into the Ewingsdale coastal plain that can be viewed from St Helena Road.

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Brian Mollet, Mullumbimby It is with considerable incredulity that I read in last week’s Echo that Byron Shire has a lazy...

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Lismore future councillor information sessions

With the delayed Local Government elections being held in September, several councils, including Lismore City Council, are holding information sessions for community members who are thinking about running for Council.

Leadership lost

Paul Leitch, Ewingsdale Thanks to Hans Lovejoy for commenting on the proposed Ewingsdale Development (24 February). It is worthwhile noting that...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SQs2Y8drP8

If it is a fault in storytelling to not hoist your banner to one cause over another, if it’s counterproductive to not arrive at a clear resolution, then Mira Nair’s latest movie is a flawed effort. Her forte lies in teasing out the complexities of family and romantic relationships – see Monsoon Wedding (2001) and the sublime adaptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (2004) – so she can be forgiven for at times coming a little unstuck in the mire of a political thriller.

Changez (Riz Ahmed) is a firebrand lecturer at Lahore University. He is believed to be implicated in the kidnapping of Rainier, an American academic – the abduction is riveting – and we meet him in a mujahideen tea-house as he is about to explain his situation to Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiver), a CIA agent.

We then jump back ten years. The son of a renowned poet, Changez has relocated from Pakistan to New York, where he lands a high-flying job with one of the city’s big-money firms. A future of great wealth and prestige seems assured, until 9/11 happens. Watching events on TV as they unfold, a fleeting insight has him appreciate what he sees as the genius of the attack on the WTC. Overnight, his standing in society crumbles. Now regarded as a potentially hostile alien, he is the victim of humiliating racial profiling. He is radicalised and returns to Pakistan.

It is here that Nair is inclined to oversimplify the unforgiving nature of cultures in irreconcilable conflict. The US is greedy and arrogant, the peoples of poorer nations exploited and downtrodden – although, to her credit, she is not afraid to hint at the Islamists’ nurtured self-pity as well as the Americans’ insensitivity. Constantly moving between 2001 and the present day, with time running out in the search for Rainier, Lincoln’s questioning of Changez pushes them towards a climax neither can control. Underpinned by murky fatalism, the final act despairs for the nature of humanity, but this still towers over the mindless blockbusters that surround it.

John Campbell


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