The Reluctant Infidel
Playing with an intriguing premise, The Reluctant Infidel follows Mahmud Nasir, a British Muslim geezer who discovers, to his shame and horror, that he was in fact born to Jewish parents and adopted by Muslim parents as a baby. Adding to his identity crisis is the need to prove his commitment to the Muslim faith to his son’s potential father-in-law, a radical cleric who must give his approval before the impending nuptials. What develops is a light and charming farce that gently pokes fun at both religions, while delicately touching on some deeper issues surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
The greatest strength of The Reluctant Infidel lies with leading man Omid Djalili, who brings a great level of commitment and heart to Mahmud, making it easy to empathise with his plight even as the plot drifts further into absurd territory. Strong support comes from character actor Richard Schiff (best known from The West Wing) as Mahmud’s instructor in the customs of the Jewish faith, and Little Britain fans will be delighted with an amusing cameo from Matt Lucas. Unfair comparisons to 2010’s Four Lions are likely to be made by some, and while it’s certainly not as hilarious or as politically aware, The Reluctant Infidel stands on its own as an enjoyable, heart-warming, and sporadically funny film.
Reviewed by: Mark Roulston