An identity crisis comedy centred on Mahmud Nasir, successful business owner, and salt of the earth East End Muslim who discovers that he's adopted - and Jewish.An identity crisis comedy centred on Mahmud Nasir, successful business owner, and salt of the earth East End Muslim who discovers that he's adopted - and Jewish.An identity crisis comedy centred on Mahmud Nasir, successful business owner, and salt of the earth East End Muslim who discovers that he's adopted - and Jewish.
Omid Djalili is a brilliant comedian. So is David Baddiel, the writer. But The Infidel's biggest weakness is its contrived and less than fully functional script: a proud Muslim man discovers he's actually Jewish. Roll on the floor clutching your sides? Afraid not.
It's not that the film's heart is in the wrong place, but it wears its liberal credentials and heart so openly, flaunting them on both sleeves, so desperate not to offend it takes no risks whatsoever and comes over as, at best, anodyne.
Yes there are some good laughs, but they are occasional and not frequent enough. Instead, we get the author using the characters to give a wave-the-index finger lecture about the need for all of us to get on and look below the surface that is religion and judge the person. Problem is, for many people religion is more than surface deep but the core of the individual, so all reality is missing from this film. Just pause for a second and consider how a strictly religious community would most likely react to discovering one of its members is actually batting for the other side, as it were.
Well, fair enough, this is meant to be a comedy, which brings me back to my main criticism: it's not that funny. Omid Djalili has his moments, rolling his eyes and floundering around as his whole life and identity is turned upside down. He also has the perfect white, liberal, Guardian-reading, Channel 4-viewing person's ideal of the perfect Muslim family. Like I say, contrived to the nines.
This is an audience that doesn't need this film because it's already presold on it. Will the film change the mindset of the less tolerant members of the community? Of course not, because they won't go see it anyway. As entertainment it falls flat because it's too preachy, too well intentioned, telling you to eat your broccoli and explaining why it's good for you. In fact, if all concerned were not part of the charmed inner circle of British film making, The Infidel would never have got made to start with, any decent producer rejecting the script at the outset.
- Mar 29, 2011