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Carlos Ramos Jr.
Jonathan 'Lil J' McDaniel
I saw this film at the Houston WorldFest where it won the Special Jury prize and found it to be one of the best movies made in the wake of September 11th. A gritty portrayal of the kidnapping of an American journalist by Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan, it seems to be inspired by the story of Daniel Pearl, which makes it riveting viewing.
Dehlavi doesn't fall into the traps others have: he eschews sentimentality, refusing to romanticize the victims of Islamic terror, instead portraying his hero, (here called Arnold Silverman) as an essentially good man flawed with an almost hubristic idealism and persistance which leads him further into the terrorists' labyrinth...a comment perhaps on post 9-11 American foreign policy. Dehlavi's portrayal of the well-educated but murderous British-born Islamist terrorists seems prophetic because the film was made before the London Tube bombings. It's a lesson on the birth of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain, following two young British-Pakistanis from English boarding school to Kosovo to Pakistan, where Silverman finally encounters them.
All the elements come together. From the first shocking images to the last, with impressive scenes in between, the film holds your attention. Excellent, painterly cinematography and first rate acting by the leads, Kevin Collins and Raza Jaffrey. This is a film that should be seen as much for the story as for its message of hope and its justified criticisms of political intransigence in the West and within Islam.
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