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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Did the reluctant critic fall asleep?

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It would be a pity if John Campbell’s review of Mira Nair’s movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist persuaded people to give this film a miss. Although I usually enjoy his reviews, Campbell seems to have fallen asleep on this occasion, right at the time Nair’s movie arrives at the ‘clear resolution’ he avers is missing.

The central character (Changez) moves past one form of fundamentalism (western capitalism), then another (the Islamic resistance) to arrive at the ultimate fundamental: of our common humanity. It is the artist who reminds us of the common human condition behind these conflicts (cultural and military).

Changez’s father is a poet, and it is during an encounter with a publisher in Turkey, whom is he supposed to put out of business on behalf of his rapacious capitalist employer, that he realises the truth.

This is a movie worth viewing and reviewing with a whole heart and an attentive mind. I will certainly see it again… and pay close attention to Changez’s final speech at the graveside of his friend and colleague, where the resolution Campbell misses is so beautifully stated.

Mira Nair is one of the very finest directors working in cinema today and, as Campbell notes, she handles confidently the complexity of relationships. What he misses in his claim that she comes ‘a little unstuck in the mire of a political thriller’ is her nuanced insight into these savage culture wars.

The music soundtrack alone is worth the admission.

 


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