I saw The Reluctant Fundamentalist recently and was blown away. I had no pre-concieved notions upon entering, nor had i ever read the book. I loved it. I thought it was a really important movie, with a perspective of terrorism, America, and American society as well as Pakistan that is rarely ever touched upon. I thought it was terrific.
“All I knew was that my days of focusing on fundamentals were done” (153). Changez came from a nation bountiful with Islamic fundamentals. He entered a new life in America that is abundant in Christian fundamentals. He experienced the fundamentals of an Ivy League education and learned the fundamentals of Underwood Samson. His romantic experience with Erica had a mysterious set of fundamentals as does each personal relationship. Fundamentals are the building blocks of human existence; rules and limits are declared and measured. These fundamentals work for most. However, people who are free thinkers or artists find their spirits caged under fundamentalism. For example, a writer must conform to the fundamentals of grammar even if their spirit takes them in some other direction. It is clear fundamentalism crosses all borders, and fundamentalists demand the taming of wild spirits. Fundamentalists bring order and a certain sense of functionality and reluctantly squelch chaos. Nevertheless, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Out of Chaos comes a star,” all the while, Changez reluctantly dispels fundamentals.
It is not so much a tale of a truly reluctant fundamentalist than a person torn between what he sees as two mutually exclusive sets of loyalties. Changez suffers from an identity crisis and religious fundamentalism only makes up a silly excuse. There's nothing in his new outlook that confirms his born-again religiosity. He drinks, gambles, fornicates with his girlfriend, and doesn’t seem to have a moral issue with his lifestyle as one might expect of an Islamic fundamentalist who rejects liberal lifestyles. His opposition to American warmongering is political not religious. He talks about “our Asia” instead of “our Ummah” or the global Muslim community. This gives us room for interpretation but we do get the message don't we...
I read the Reluctant Fundamentalist a few ago, enjoyed it. If I am selected to view the screening, it would be interesting
to see how much “liberties” director Mira Nair takes.