Academy Award(R)-nominee Rachel Griffiths (HILARY AND JACKIE, MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING) stars in a critically acclaimed story of unlikely love set against a clash of cultures and generations! Parvez is a cab driver who lef... more »t Pakistan in search of a better life for his family. Now he feels that he is losing his only son, Farid, to the conversative beliefs he abandoned long ago. Meanwhile, Parvez befriends a compassionate woman (Griffiths) and finds the comfort, support, and tenderness he does not have with his own family. When the disapproving Farid discovers this relationship, however, an uncomfortable situation boils over as Parvez is forced to choose between the son he adores ... and the woman who understands him!« less
"Made in 1997 (ps: pre-911) it is remarkable how a movie so simple in its narrative, and so in the shadow of critical cinema, could depict such smack-dab nuances of eastern immigrants at odds with a western setting or how the cultural assimilation of trans-national immigrants doesn't always look like a rainbow colored day at the beach. But despite that seemingly ho-hum central tack, there are many conflicts studied very poignantly -- modern versus mediaeval, father versus son, fidelity versus emotional satisfaction, ethnic conservatism (ok, fanaticism) versus open minded cosmopolitanism, Good House Husband versus Bad Man Who Befriends Prostitutes, Decent Living Taxi Driver versus Someone Who Became Filthy Rich...and each is sublte yet hard-hitting in its simplicity. Without giving away too much about the plot, there is no ordinary character in the movie, certainly no ordinary Muslim. The father (Parvez, played wonderfully by Om Puri) is a cabbie who flirts about in a relationship with a streetside floozy whom he finds more uplifting (no pun intended) than his standpat wife back home who disapproves of his free-wheeling ways and even finds his interests in jazz "too trumpety". The other Muslim, the son, is at loggerheads with his peers in throes of non-acceptance and instead gets inveigled into Islamic fundamentalism as an escape. This contrast is very, very credible, real and amusing. Particularly noteworthy are Udayan's idiosynchratic implications about what constitutes "right" or "wrong" character. Parvez's prostitute girlfriend has a loving heart, a sharp mind and a vivacious presence despite her ostracization from the Good People Club. The son and his other right-wing Islamic acolyte buddies come off as annoyingly childish in a thoughtless "promiscuity" of their own. For instance, they invite a Pakistani Maulvi to sermonize/"guide", and a hilarious TRUE moment pops up when the Maulvi requests the non-approving father for some help with his immigration into England. Another VERY, VERY quiet 5 second scene that leaves an indelible impact is the depiction of male chauvinism dominating orthodox Islam where Parvez's wife is huddled in the kitchen for dinner, behind a closed door, and refuses to come out to dine with the men of the house in fear of doing something "inappropriate" in the presence of the supposed Maulvi. The movie has many light-hearted moments and the cinematography is unexpectedly stunning. All this emotional, moral tussle between father, son, wife, romantic interest etc leads to a denouement that is hardly a resolution of sorts but is deeply moving. Everyone makes a choice (and I found the choice of Parvez's wife particularly startling) in favor of freedom from personal and social shackles. Made me think for days and recommend this movie to everyone I care about. This is probably not your average East Meets West type ethnic take and certainly not a look into typical Muslim life as it makes no pretense of being. Yet, as a movie that tackles very touching, very identifiable themes of how simple convictions about life and love can sway people into/away from relationships, it comes HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me."
The gentle humor adds to the humanity of this fine film
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 08/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The theme of immigrant children rejecting traditional values is a common one. But in this 1997 British gem, there's a twist. This screenplay, by Hanif Kuresshi, tells a story of a Pakistani-British taxicab driver whose only son reverts to Moslem fundamentalism much to his father's displeasure. It's a modern story, and we've all become painfully aware of these issues lately.Om Puri, with his weathered pock-marked face, has the ability to create a character that is easy to identify with. He's a foreigner, the victim of racial prejudice. He has also become alienated from his family. And yet, he is bursting with vitality and is full of wisdom. When his son breaks his engagement with an English girl and turns to fundamentalism, he's horrified as it is against the basic principles of the secular life he has chosen for himself. He has nobody to turn to as a friend with the exception of Rachel Griffiths, cast in the role of a prostitute he chauffeurs around. She, too, is alienated, and as their relationship grows, the story become more complex.Many of the scenes are shot inside the cab, and even though it took me a few minutes to get adjusted to the fact that the driver's seat is on the right in England, it really gave me the feeling of what a cabdriver's day-to-day life is like. The cross-cultural conflicts are sharp and grating as the son invites a visiting holy man to stay in their house and the young extremists demonstrate for moral decency. I could certainly identify with the father's dilemma as he grappled with his own complex moral choices. There's gentle humor too, and it adds to the humanity of the film, although I could never call it a comedy. It's simply an offbeat story with some unlikely people dealing with very real issues. Definitely recommended."
Can cultures intermix?
Mikael Kuoppala | Helsinki, Finland | 04/16/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Islamic fundamentalism and western hedonism collide in Hanif Kureishi's film "My Son the Fanatic", wich takes place in the small English town of Bradford.The film was a huge hit in the 1997 Cannes film festival. It's intriquing way of combining comedy and drama earned it the Official Selection."My Son the Fanatic" gives us a peak to the life of Parvez, an Indian-Brittish taxi-driver, who doesn't care much about his roots, but is very fond of the western way of life. He befriends with the lower class of his town, eventually falling in love with a prostitute.His son, Farid, represents a very different kind of thinking. He opposes the western way of living recklessly and seeks order. This leads to him leaving his English fiancé and joining a group of islamic fundamentalists.The film that begins as a light comedy turns into serious drama as Parvez and Farid collide in their different ways of viewing life. Parvez's worry about his son and his long-dead marriage to his traditional Indian wife who doesn't approve of him mingling with criminals and prostitutes etc. offers us meaningfull moments, wich carry the deep characters through situations.The film speaks for open mindedness, showing that a prostitute can be a good person and that a religious fanatic is always someones child. It offers much to think about while questioning common prejudiousness.The adequate acting performances and Udayan Prasad's talented directing support Hanif Kureishi's insightfull script, wich unfortunately, or perhaps intentionally, is left a bit superficial."My Son the Fanatic" shows us that cultures can indeed intermix, and I recommend it strongly, especially at these times.To quote Parvez: "Farid tells me cultures can't be combined. Jesus! You can't keep them apart!""
Ultimately a Ghetto Love Story - and an excellent one.....
Winthrop Harrison | Seattle, WA United States | 01/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'My Son the Fanatic' is a tremendous film. The power & message of the film was surely powerful in 1998. But in my American winter of 2002, this film strikes deep. I've been to the Docklands, Hackney & Vauxhall - this film captures the base racism & grime of marginal London, never as an excuse, but as a living fact, and never a wall to what really matters. Love, Truth, or what seems to be. There isn't a Soul in this film who isn't searching for those same things. But sadly, they search for it with very different dreams.The beauty of this film is its careful study of loneliness, and how a handful of isolated poor forgotten people dream in so very different ways. Some look for it in drugs, prostitution, simply surviving, or the Purity of Islamic Fundamentalism. And/Or just simply Living, and making it Work. In this movie, all moral choices collide, the participants are that close to making it work. None of them are wholly wrong.I'll reveal no more, just to say that the camera-work is lively and excellent. The pacing is good, the message is so alive, this film deserves to be seen. It raises troubling questions about Terrorism and Fanaticism, and answers none. But that is the honest confused place we all find ourselves. It's 2002, it's up to your heart where you go from here... This film perectly captures one world. What's yours?"
A Fine Little Film That Is Particularly Important Today!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"MY SON THE FANATIC is a small scale film made in 1998 about the problems of cross culture assimilation between Pakistanis and the British - or rather between Muslim and Christian - that packs a powerful punch in the understanding of current clashes similar to the film's story that are so keenly in focus today. Based on a short story by Hanif Kureishi (who also adapted the story to a screenplay) and directed by the highly respected Udayan Prasad, this film is blessed with a fine cast of actors who make some of the more improbable aspects quite warmly credible.
Parvez (the always fine Om Puri) slept through his Muslim education in Pakistan and moved to England with his wife Minoo (Gopi Desai) where he has been a taxi cab driver for 25 years while his co-immigrants such as his best friend Fizzy (Harish Patel) have become rich entrepreneurs. Parvez and Minoo have a young son Farid (Akbar Kurtha) who is a bit unsettled as a Pakistani adjusting to life in capitalistic England and has found a girlfriend Madeline (Sarah-Jane Potts) who happens to be the daughter of the Chief Police Inspector Fingerhut (Geoffrey Bateman). Despite the fact that Parvez and his wife would prefer Farid marry a Pakistani girl they consent to an engagement party, a turning point for the politically tenuous Farid. When Farid observes how the Fingerhut family snubs his Pakistani parents and background he explodes and instead joins a fundamentalist Muslim group, pledging his life to stamping out porn, drugs, evil, etc.
Parvez attempts reconciliation with his wildly fanatical son but the only person with whom he can communicate is a hooker named Bettina/Sandra (Rachel Griffiths) who has a heart of gold and is only in the Profession to make enough money to become a teacher. Parvez is a driver for a pimp service and he is assigned to escort a wealthy smarmy German Schitz (Stellan Skarsgård) through a series of encounters, encounters that involve Bettina among others. But along the way Bettina softens to Parvez, listens to his anguish about his son, and eventually becomes Parvez' paramour. When Farid's fundamentalist group is attacking the brothel where Bettina works he discovers his father's situation and is enraged: Parvez, Farid and Minoo must come to an understanding - and it is this manner of coping that provides a very touching ending to the film.
The story holds its own as a movie, but the underlying content is pungent, intelligent, perceptive, insightful and very cogent. Each member of the cast is excellent but Om Puri proves once again that he can carry a film with a questionable character strongly on his shoulders. Not only is this a fine little comedy drama to watch, it also provides some serious food for thought. Grady Harp, March 07"