Posted by Matt Rosenberg on April 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm
Mahmud Nasir considers himself a true Muslim. He may not pray 5 times a day towards Mecca, but in his heart Allah lives. His son wants to marry this girl, who’s stepfather is an Islamic extremist. So Mahmud’s son needs his father to be convincingly Muslim so that he can get his soon-to-be wife’s stepfather’s blessing. However, Mahmud’s mother just passed away, and he finds his birth certificate just laying around in her old belongings. Mahmud realizes he was adopted, and guess what, his birth parents were Jewish. Yep, Jewish. This doesn’t pose well for the crazy fundamentalist stepfather of his son’s fiance. Mahmud’s life then turns upside down as he tries to learn about his Jewish roots while trying to pretend to be an overly religious Muslim. As you can imagine, things don’t go so well.
Directed by Josh Appignanesi, The Infidel is a comedy about Jewish and Muslim stereotypes. The movie stars Omid Djalili (Gladiator and The Mummy), who plays Mahmud, and Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Mahmud’s Jewish neighbor Lenny. Once Mahmud discovers his Jewish roots, he needs Lenny to teach him about being Jewish. Djalili was perfectly casted here as he really does look like both a Muslim and a Jew; he has that Middle Eastern look where you really can’t tell if the person is Islamic or Jewish.
The premise of this movie is amazing. From just reading the blurb before seeing the film, I was ready to laugh my butt off. Plus, due to its extremely sensitive subject, this movie could only be delivered in a comedic or serious manner. Obviously it was written to generate some laughs. While at times this movie was funny, it often strayed into the sitcom-ish lane, and because of that I got somewhat bored with this film. An ‘uy-vey’ joke can be delivered in only so many ways.
I don’t want to say I did not like this movie, because that is not true. I just though it could have been so much better. I was not bored with this movie for the entire time, I just thought the same jokes kept being delivered.
One thing I really did like about this movie was that it tastefully delivers a very warm and important message; that we all need to be understanding and tolerant of one another. And I’m glad the movie did not take itself too seriously. Sure, there were times that it tried to be a little too serious about the religious issue, but it really did stay away from preaching anything. The message is simple, we are more similar than different, and we should accept each other for who we are. The Infidel says that and tells a couple jokes along the way.
If you make it to the Tribeca Film Festival, go see The Infidel.
The film will be available nationwide on video-on-demand starting April 21st through June and will have a limited theatrical release following the Festival in NYC starting May 5th