Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)
BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
Video: 1080p / AVC
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH & Spanish
Run time: 130 minutes
Studio: IFC Films
Rating: Rated R
Region Coding: Region A Locked
Riz Ahmed as Changez
Kate Hudson as Erica
Liev Schreiber as Bobby Lincoln
Kiefer Sutherland as Jim Cross
Om Puri as Abu
Shabana Azmi as Ammi
Martin Donovan as Ludlow Cooper
Nelsan Ellis as Wainwright
Haluk Bilginer as Nazmi Kemal
Meesha Shafi as Bina
Imaaduddin Shah as Sameer
Directed by Mira Nair
At first glance Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist looks like it's going to be one of those stories where someone simply divulges their life's events to a someone else, but it actually goes way beyond that. In fact, I felt that the film went too far beyond that and is slightly preachy, but it still managed to hold my interest for two hours.
The film opens in Pakistan where we are introduced to a young man named Changez and is close knit family. Changez is a history/philosophy teacher at Lahore University, but when a fellow prominent professor is kidnapped by a local terror cell he is implicated by the CIA.
Due to Changez's slightly radical views and almost cult like status amongst the student populace at the university CIA agent Bobby Lincoln poses a journalist to get some information from Changez on the whereabouts of the missing professor. Bobby assumes that he has more information, but he soon realizes that this kidnapping may be the start of a revolution if he doesn't discover the truth behind Changez's motives. What begins a simple interview rapidly changes into a search for understanding, truth, and trust.
The script is sound and I was rather impressed by the acting, but the main issues lie with the editing. First, this film is slightly over two hours long due to several unneeded scenes that do nothing for its plot or character progression. If the pace had been slightly faster with 15-20 shaved off the top it could have been branded a thriller instead of the drama that it really is. It's certainly enjoyable, but I honestly doubt that I will ever have the urge to watch it again. Due to violence, profanity, and brief nudity this one is not for children of any age.
IFC Films is a smaller company so I wasn't expecting anything fantastic from The Reluctant Fundamentalist in terms of picture quality, but it's still above average in its own right. Most of the film looks well done with proper color saturation and fine detail. However, there are definitely some problems with lighting and noise. Many scenes are shot in lower light causing noise to become apparent. There are some shots that are so bad that backgrounds can look rather mushy. Luckily, these scenes only pop up from time to time, but when compared to the film's brightly lit scenes the difference is jarring. Despite this flaw I was still satisfied for the most part and chances are most will the same. My own screen captures from The Reluctant Fundamentalist can be found below.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist sports a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, like the picture quality falls a bit short of reference levels. Dialogue is clear for the most part, but there are several scenes where whispered/muffled voices make it difficult to understand without the aid of subtitles. Surround usage is rather limited outside of the film's musical score. There were many opportunities for ambient sound effects that just never occur. A roaring crowd towards the end of the film provides some good LFE usage, but other than that the mix seems rather subdued. It's not poor by any means, but I've certainly reviewed better for this type of film.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist arrives on Blu-ray with rather limited supplements. There is 31 minute making-of feature that's actually rather interesting if you enjoy the film itself. There is also the film's two minute theatrical trailer. Both of these are presented in HD.
Final Word: Worth A Rental