30 August 2012 7:53 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Before its unveiling, some found “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” a peculiar choice as Venice opener by new artistic director Alberto Barbera, even taking into account Mira Nair’s history here (the Indian-born, New York-based filmmaker won the Golden Lion with “Monsoon Wedding” in 2001). Now that it’s aired, the reasons are clearer: its more controversial parts will send Fox News spinning into hours of self-righteous paroxysm. Nair’s storytelling here is much like her film’s protagonist: often muscularly charismatic, intriguing and appealing, but sometimes blunt, exasperating or mystifying. It’s adapted from a novel by Moshin Hamid about one man’s post-9/11 identity crisis and benefits from an exceptional turn by Riz Ahmed, a handsome evocation of modern-day Lahore and thought-provoking insights into cross-cultural misperception. The film opens compellingly on the streets of 2011 Lahore, with a folk-band’s catchy »

- Matt Mueller

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