If there ever was a time to see
With a potent piece of fiction as its starting point and a splendid performance by
Director Mira Nair has managed the difficult feat of turning novelist Mohsin Hamid's elegant but ambivalent and elusive novel about a gifted Pakistani falling in and out of love with American capitalism into a film. She has taken what is essentially a monologue on the page and transformed it into an intricately plotted screen thriller with a conventional beginning, middle and end.
The tale begins in
The scene shifts to a U.S. special-ops team keeping watch on a tea house in the old part of the city. Scheduled to meet there are two wary men. Bobby Lincoln (always solid Liev Schreiber) is an American journalist who's lived in Lahore long enough to pick up a taste for drugs and a fluency in Urdu. The man he has shown up to interview, Changez Khan (Ahmed) is a professor who has a reputation for being "Pakistan's new militant academic," a man with a palpable grudge against the U.S.
Yet the first thing Changez tells Bobby is that appearances can be deceptive. "I am a lover of America," he says with complete sincerity, adding that for many years he was "a soldier in your economic army." The bulk of this film is a flashback, as Changez describes his down-at-the-heels aristocratic family, headed by a father (the veteran
Changez becomes a golden boy at Wall Street powerhouse Underwood Samson. The firm is so good at helping international companies improve their value (often by cutting their workforce) that its operatives are known as "the Navy SEALs of financial analysis." Changez is also shown making progress romantically, getting involved with Erica (Kate Hudson), a hip New York photographer who has a complicated personal history. (Partly because of Hudson's performance, the relationship section is the film's least involving aspect.) The attacks of Sept. 11 alter everything for Changez, how his world thinks of him and, equally important, what he thinks about it. He has to decide who he is, where he stands, and what he thinks about how America conducts itself in the world and what his response should be.
Ahmed is especially good at portraying all the facets of this increasingly complex man, a fitting centerpiece to an increasingly intricate and involving film.