The Reluctant Fundamentalist

THRILLER; 2hr 6min

STARRING: Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland

Hands-on: from left, Sutherland and Ahmed

Director Mira Nair’s rigorous study of conflicted loyalty opens with the 2011 kidnapping in Lahore, Pakistan, of an American academic. It then cuts back to 2001 New York, where hotshot Princeton grad Changez Khan (Ahmed) has just been hired as a financial analyst. The polite and personable Changez may somehow be connected to the 2011 kidnapping. How did he evolve from sharp-suited careerist to conceivably dangerous enigma?


Nair (The Namesake) has assembled an impressive cast to answer that sociopolitically rooted question. A curvier, brunette Hudson is Erica, the emotionally conflicted American photographer who Changez romances, Schreiber’s Bobby is the agenda-driven journalist whose 2011 interview with Changez in Lahore is the narrative through-line, and Sutherland is hard-nosed senior analyst Jim who mentors Changez, only to be badly let down. Adapted from Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel, the tone is relentlessly fervent, pressing home the central point that even as his American career is soaring, Changez is a victim of post-9/11 racial paranoia. Scarred by disillusionment, the man who returns to Pakistan is the antithesis of the ambitious boy who left.