Shortly after Mahmud’s (Omid Djalili) mother dies, he – a not particularly devout but believing muslim, well-integrated into the local muslim community – finds out that he was adopted. Not only that, Mahmud was born Jewish. That discovery throws him into a bit of an identity crisis, especially when the local rabbi (Matt Lucas) refuses that he can see his natural father before he has learned at least the basics of Judaism. So Mahmud swallows his antisemitic tendencies and enlists the help of cabby Lenny (Richard Schiff) to teach him. And as if that wasn’t enough, at the same time Mahmud’s son Rashid (Amit Shah) and the entire family have to appear particularly devout so that Rashid’s fiancée’s stepdad Arshad (Yigal Naor), an extremely conservative religious leader, gives his consent to their marriage.
I really enjoyed The Infidel. The film manages to treat religion respectfully but not be so awestruck that you can’t point out religious shortcomings – a rather difficult tightrope walk. But above all, it is funny, very well written and has an excellent cast.
It was really excellently done how Mahmud’s grip on the situation gets looser with every passing minute, how he continuously manages to talk himself out of the frying pan and into the fire and how everything slowly, but inevitably spins completely out of control. Beautiful. You know that the shit is going to hit the fan – and in a very bad way – but you really want to know how.
The only thing I wasn’t surprised by was the plot twist and revelation at the end. Saw that 0ne coming a bit earlier than the reveal. (But then again I seem to have seen too many movies to be really surprised by most of them. I know too well how they work. Or I just have an excellent plot twist radar. In any case I might not be the person to judge these things.)
I really enjoyed how they handled Mahmud’s identity crisis. I thinkthat it nicely showed many issues, not only for people who might come from a multi-religious background, but generally from a mulitcultural one and how hard it can be to incorporate the various part into a coherent whole. (They stopped a little short of the ideal resolution for me there – which would have been that they create a 3rd culture, instead of appropriating an existing 3rd one. But still)
And as I said, the cast was excellent and the writing superb. I was really very entertained by the whole thing.