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  • STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

    Sohail (Riz Ahmed) and Nasima (Verjinder Virk) are a British born Muslim brother and sister with differing views on Islam and modern Britain. Though he thinks the war in Iraq was unjustified and isn't shy about saying exactly what he thinks about those who hate him and the people he cares about just for the colour of their skin, Sohail also despairs of the misguided teachings of extremist Muslim scholars and, most importantly, feels he owes a huge debt of gratitude to the country that took him in, gave him a home and the best chance of a decent education and the best chances in life. On the other hand, Nasima's earliest memories are 'of them smashing our windows and putting dogshit through our letterbox...I hate this country.' And in her eyes things haven't got much better over the years. This two-part drama thriller follows the different paths these two choose, as Sohail secretly joins MI5 and has to search his conscience when he's asked to spy on his close friends and people he's grown up with. Meanwhile, Nasima's best friend is arrested and held without charge on suspicion of terrorism, but is then released, only to have ridiculous bail conditions imposed on her, learn she won't get fair representation in court and for the stress of it all to drive her to commit suicide. When Nasima's father, a strict Muslim with traditionalist beliefs, learns she's been seeing a black man, he sends her off to Pakistan for an arranged marriage. Instead, she finds herself on a journey to a terrorist training camp...and becoming a suicide bomber.

    With a plot taken straight from today's headlines, Britz focuses in on two characters who are so close but so far apart. It's a hot potato story about Muslims in modern Britain and their attitudes and feelings towards UK foreign policy and their own treatment back home.

    Sohail is an interesting character, who shows the problems on both sides with heavy-handed authorities who make young Muslims feel alienated but also the backward, fanatical teachings, beliefs and ideals of his own people. Nasima's story, on the other hand, zooms in on all the bad points only from the Muslim point of view, with the right to free speech/protest being chipped away, a lot of heavy-handed new anti-terror laws being introduced which give the feeling of being aimed at Muslims, and the harsh attitude they are met with by the authorities. The police are painted in a bad light in both stories. I'm sure they don't play completely by the book when going after terror suspects, but some of the behaviour they display in this does seem a bit over the top and I'm sure they wouldn't get away with it in real life.

    This is an ambitious and highly-charged two-parter but at over two hours each, the narrative flow in both stories gets disjointed and doesn't flow smoothly, making it feel like a bit of a slog to sit through at times. And the ending, when it eventually comes, just doesn't pay off. I couldn't buy Nasima's transformation into a woman who's mind had been completely warped and was capable of mass murder. A lot of bad stuff had happened to her, but it just didn't feel like she'd changed to that extent. Sensationalism is a big part of the problem, here, from the portrayal of the police to Nasima's end decision. Her haunting, impassioned suicide video is a neat end, though, and reminds you of a lot of the good stuff going on here.

    This set it's sights very high, and there's a lot to write home about, but some crippling flaws mean it doesn't ascend to the heights it should have. ***
  • I watched the entire four hours plus of Britz in one bum-numbing session. It delivers exactly what you expect from a Channel 4 mini-series – hard-hitting, topical, well-made edgy drama. Sadly it is also overwritten, more than a little preachy, and some of the acting is uneven.

    Episode one, Sohail's story, plays like an endlessly drawn-out episode of Spooks. It has it's moments, and Riz Ahmed is rather good, but the highlights are few and far between, and an awful lot of scenes feel padded. Part two, Nasima's story, is more compelling and at the same time more predictable. The ending is a long time coming and you may spot it a mile off, yet the motivations and attitudes set up for the character lead one to feel that the outcome doesn't ring true. I won't give away the game, but I didn't entirely buy it.

    This is the first of Kosminsky's celebrated contemporary dramas I've seen and while the quality of his writing and the power of the subject matter are enough to maintain interest for much of the story, it's hard not to feel he could have achieved more at half the length.
  • I didn't get to see this when it was first shown on t.v so I watched it about a week after on 4OD. It's not the kind of thing I would normally watch but let me tell you, it is so worth watching. Its very hard hitting and intense and makes you think about the issues that are raised in it. The acting is awesome and there is never a dull moment. Its very clever the way they have split it in two and have managed to combine them. When you watch the second one you can almost see what is about to happen but nothing can prepare you for the shock ending. I personally thought that this was so good I have researched it for my media studies coursework. Before I watched this I had no idea how unfair this country has been to British born Muslims and it makes you wonder how people have stood by and let these laws continue. I am white British and from the northeast of England and if it managed to make me stop and think about the issues raised then I think it can do the same for anyone else.
  • I was greatly impressed with this - it bravely raises issues around racial harmony, integration or persecution that are little examined in contemporary British media.

    The plot is suspenseful, if at times a little unbelievable.

    The acting is very good, the production and direction artful without overdoing it. Scenes on location overseas very well done.

    Overall a very enjoyable, and thought provoking film, which raises difficult political questions for individuals, nations and faiths to think about carefully, but the film reminds us we don't have the luxury of time to ponder these thorny issues, when so many lives hang in the balance day by day.

    Well done to all the production staff, and people involved in this project. Goodstuff Channel 4.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first part was good. The brother character was full of common sense and his rise through MI5 was compulsive viewing.

    The plot started to unravel in the second part. A policeman threatens to shove a ham sandwich down her throat. British policemen are politically correct to the point of ridicule. Then, she wears the headscarf on a bus in Bradford, which is strongly Asian. No-one will sit next to her. As if.

    It's unclear why the sister took the course of action that she did. Her arguments originally come from a civil liberties standpoint. But then out of the blue she becomes a suicide bomber, acting for people who have no concept of civil liberties whatsoever.

    What did it for me was the suicide tape at the end when the sister tells us all that we are responsible for her actions. How dare C4 repeat the lies of these extremists?

    Perhaps they should be reminded that the goal of Al Queda is to turn the world into an Islamic super-state. The first role of the terrorist is to portray themselves as the victim. Nobody thought to tell the writer.
  • carl_neville4 September 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    A previous review states that this is quite slow, but then again I believe it has to be to fully explain the dilemma's and choices that the two principle's have to make.

    With this being rushed then perhaps the agony that goes with making the (very contrasting) decisions made by the two principle actors would be less believable....thoroughly enjoyable, if you like to think during a film..

    Particularly poignant, especially given the heightened tension towards Muslims post 9/11, this applies globally, ans well as in the side of this argument chooses to embrace their adopted country, however the other is unhappy and angry at the constant lack of acceptance and takes their frustration to extreme measures
  • paul2001sw-14 November 2007
    'Britz' attempts to look at the psychology of contemporary British Muslims, a worthy subject in the age of suicide bombings. Two siblings feature in this drama, and both are viewed with sympathy: a man who joins the security service, and his sister, who become a terrorist. Unfortunately, episode one, centred on the former, is plain daft. MI5 is presented much as it is in 'Spooks': beautiful people, high tech-gadgetry, and a general air of cool. It didn't convince me one iota as real, and seemed as littered with false detail like a bad sci-fi film: for example, we see implausible network analysis graphics on the screens of the agents, whose sinister form was presumably preferred to taking any real network analysis package and putting a real network through it. It's still amazing to me that in the 21st century, films try to impress by simulating imagined computer technology with mock-ups less impressive than the real thing. This point may sound like a geekish digression, but it illustrates a more fundamental truth: that the world we see is a false one, right down to the old cliché of the supposed desk officer going out to find the terrorists by himself when his bosses won't believe him.

    Episode two, his sister's story, isn't as silly, but I didn't find that it completely convinced me that the character, who seems rational and sarcastic, would actually end her own life. The suggestion is made that she acts out of anger rather than religious belief; but I am uncertain whether a sane, intelligent and secular human being can really take a decision to commit suicide; her experiences, although tough, do not justify the extreme nihilism of her position. The aim is undoubtedly to make us understand the mind of a bomber; but while Nasira is understandable , she loses plausibility as a result. Additionally, the drama in both episodes is often heavy-handed, rather clumsily making its points. But 'Britiz' is not rubbish. In places, its an interesting

    and thoughtful look at certain aspects of life in Britain and Pakistan that are often unreported. But in its efforts to make a bigger statement about a greater and more terrifying mystery, this ambitious film over-reaches itself.
  • Finished watching Britz and it was excellent on all levels. Another example of Kosminsky portraying multi layers of a complex, deep rooted, fragile sociopolitical issue (as he did so consummately in The Promise). He shows major flaws in opposing cultures but also wills the audience to see things from more than one perspective. By telling the story of cause and effect then revenge, on an individual's level, he portrays the bigger picture brilliantly.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The long weekend of Thanksgiving 2008 would be the one that would go down in my diary as absolutely dreadful! Not only did I get exposed to the irreparably brain damaging Zohan movie with Adam Sandler, but I also ran across this equally implausible 2 part series shown by BBC America. The show feels like it might as well have been written by Daniel Pipes. Its characters are soap opera-ish, based more on a zealot's imagination than fact. The story goes like this, two Pakistani brother and sister, born and raised in the UK, have taken two different paths. The brother, a law student, secretly joins the Mi5. His story is the first half of the series. It all starts going downhill in the second part where his sister's side is told. His sister, Nasima, a girl with strong opinions about rights and justice, participates in protests, maintains a boyfriend, and also juggles a medical residency on the side. When her best friend is jailed on flimsy grounds, it sets off a chain of events that lead to her undoing. Upon release, her friend, also of Pakistani origin, commits suicide. Rather than mourn the loss with friends and family, the tragedy convinces her to attend a Jihadi recruitment session (go figure!). Her boyfriend, a black UK born Christian, a residence at the same hospital she is in, gets infuriated with her as he is asked to leave the session because he is non-Muslim. After attending the session, she obviously feels guilty about hiding the fact she has a boyfriend from her father, and one night confesses to him (such power these sessions have over young, naive and guilt-ridden girls that they would take such a risk). Obviously, that is too much for him to bear and orders the girl and her mother to sit on the next flight to Pakistan. Financially, the whole trip would cost more than 8000 pounds, a kings ransom for a family of her financial background, especially when you think how expensive seats tend to be when you book them the day before you leave (what to talk of other logistics such as Visa, vaccinations, the type of carrier, packing, buying gifts for relatives etc). It would have been more believable if the father, told her daughter to get out of his house, and that would have been the end of it, but no wait, the plausibility gap gets wider. The viewer, is asked to suspend reality for the duration of the rest of the drama. We see mother and daughter on-board a plane to Pakistan. The Jihadi outfit's representative is also on-board. He passes her an email address to a contact in Pakistan (how the rep gets wind of her impromptu travel plans is beyond my comprehension). Once in Pakistan, Nasima resides with relatives and her mother in some unknown village, and is paraded in front of relatives, played by somewhat more believable characters. Her boyfriend somehow finds the money to buy two return tickets, not even sure of where she is, travels to Pakistan and miraculously hones in on her location amongst the THOUSANDS of villages that dot the Punjabi countryside.

    Unfortunately, he comes all the way only to get beaten up by her relatives as he makes his clumsy approach towards her in their courtyard. Nasima, obviously distraught runs away and joins up with the Jihadi outfit where she learns to make explosives. The outfit arranges to have a fake body shown to her relatives to have them believe she has been killed in a fire. Lo and behold, after the relatives buy the story and bury her in Britain, she is given the dead girls identity, who conveniently, seems to look like her, and is also a British passport holder (I told you). In a nutshell, she makes it back on British soil, without being identified, whatsoever, and bombs a major London landmark killing innocent women and children. The message from the movie: Don't mess around with Muslim Youth, even the ones who are seemingly successful as they will take any excuse (friends death, arranged marriage, arrest and detention, political persecution etc), as a cause for waging Jihad, and they will hit you where you least expect it! They will justify killing Western babies, one way or the other, without an ounce of humanity, because the means is less important than the end result. Mr. Pipes couldn't have done better. The British Muslims I know, though very vocal about rights (as they should be) would shudder at this portrayal. If in-fact, they appreciate this garbage, they deserve whatever they get!
  • What the hell were you doing staring in a Television Drama that is so weak in narrative structure that i honestly thought i was watching an episode of East Enders.

    What the hell does the director Peter Kosminsky know about being this topic? On reading an article about the director what does he know about British Muslims???

    "British Muslims are fantastically angry and disillusioned," he says. "They are infuriated by a foreign policy that appears to be an attack on Muslims worldwide – a new Crusade – and a shockingly large series of security measures which seem to be aimed solely at them."

    The man that is saying these words is white, Jewish, privately educated and in his fifties. He is drinking tea at his beautiful cottage in the Wiltshire countryside. Yet he is trying to describe how a young, moderate medical student from Leeds could become so outraged by what is happening around her that she is willing to strap on explosives. This is just so weak, Its an excuse for C4 to pretend that they are covering controversial topics regarding stories about post 911 yet they are still are made by white middle class film-makers? If C4 were insistent in employing a white director why didn't they let Michael Winterbottom make this film He would of clearly done a better job.

    The character for Nasima was totally outrageous and unbelievable Yet Kosminsky insists her motives are fact. Kosminsky also states that he knows a lot of people will be angry! You have got that right we are angry because it was such a weak story and by far this is radical drama.

    I am also disappointed by Riz Ahmed, your performance was good, but what were you doing working on such a weak premise ,that is only exploiting and sensationalising Radical Islam. A complete farce.

    Riz if your reading this i suggest you next time pick your film projects wisely. As there will be a number of British Muslims that will feel that you have let them down

    1- 10 a disappointment! I suggest C4 begin to employ the next generation of British Pakistani's & British Muslim writer & directors who would paint a more realistic picture behind a story which needs authentic voices. Not White Middle Class film directors that have just jumped on the bandwagon. Its about time we hear the real voices of British Pakistani Muslims for a change.

    Shame on you C4!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all, the drama had set out good hopes to help shed light on how Someone Under Pressure from All Directions can be motivated to do something stupid, in this case, Do a Suicide Bomb.

    The drama started positively, two siblings, each going their own way; the brother joining MI5, the sister eventually wanting to Attack Britian with a "Suicide Bomb". The drama however, ended up with a "James Bond"-esquire feel and became rather stereo-typical and surreal rather than what it was meant to be, a guide as to how those responsible for 7/7 would have been motivated.

    (Spoler) The fact that the Main Character, Naseema, Was a not-so-religious woman, sleeping with men and obviously very laid back, Suffered a tragedy when her friend was abused by Police Officors and took her own Life. Naseem to quickly became influenced by "Terrorist sympathisers" it was rather silly and absurd how it was as if it was normal.

    Also the fact how it was made as if it was normal for a Muslim to sympathise with terrorists, even after World-Wide Condenmnation left a lot to be asked.

    I think the Show did a good job Pointing out the fact there are too many Absurd Laws obviously set to target Muslims, and Silly Policies which are actually affecting Muslims. How Raids and Attacks against Muslims are almost Accepeted and "Normal". Pressuring Muslims and singling them out. Also the fact that the current wars have done no good and made it harder for everyone. How Muslim Women are raped in US "POW" Prisons, and Men are Abused in US "POW" Prisons.

    A Bleack Picture is given as to how helpless UK Muslims feel when any attempt to protest goes Unheard and simply brushed away. The only hope being to "Fight fire with fire"

    However i felt the Drama could have done to avoid Cliché "Terror" and "Evil" Stereotypes.

    Thankfully the world we know is not as Grimm and Pessismistic as this, but does paint a picture the Government needs to sort its act out; making Equality a proper priority, and to condemn atrocities carried out in the Backward Wars "Against Terror".
  • Gary-1611 November 2007
    This was portentously long and teeth grindingly slow. This is to signify that it wants to be taken VERY seriously and to do so, make you SERIOUSLY suffer. It forced me to watch bits and pieces of Jeremy Paxman just to get to the end, which should define for you what boredom really means.

    Apparently the guy who wrote it couldn't find any bomber types to research his story. So he decided to "draw on his own experiences." Must have been his experiences waiting at the bus stop. That is, back in the days before Channel 4 sent a limo to pick him up.

    Suffice to say, the best way to cast light on a serious issue in British society is to come up with the most corny Hollywood plot contrivance. Reverse the obvious gender roles (Gosh, how ironic, how cutting edge) and have two members of the same family but on opposite sides end up chasing each other's tails. Brilliant!

    No idea what the ending was meant to signify. The ambivalence of the Muslim in British society today? I've no idea. Trouble is, neither did the writer/director if he had been honest with himself in the first place.

    I don't know what's more frightening. Islamic terrorism or the money wasted on this project.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sohail joins MI5 in order to do his bit for the country he loves. His sister becomes a terrorist.

    I personally thought that the first half was quite good, the actors were all very convincing and worked wonderfully off one another. But as the second half arrived, I was confused as to why Sohail's sister would turn to terrorism all of a sudden...after seeing protests and stuff, as well as her best friend committing suicide..

    As a British Muslim, as well as being in my early twenty's I've grown up within an environment were I have been called many things for being simply different, but it wouldn't set me on the path of terrorism...I felt that the script writer and director were either completely stupid or didn't do any research.

    Yes, there were certain aspects that made me think; like sex before marriage in a Muslim house...And marrying someone outside your culture...But the jump from 'innocent student to terrorist' was a bit too much...Another stereotype film.