Movies: The Infidel ***
(15A, limited release)
Published 04/06/2010 | 05:00
It's a brave satirist who tilts his lance at Islam, but English filmmakers are starting to do so.
A couple of months back we had Four Lions, Chris Morris's not so subtle assault on would-be British jihadists, and now we have The Infidel, a gentler but more thoughtful and ultimately more successful meditation on intolerance.
Directed by Josh Appignanesi and written by David Baddiel, The Infidel stars stand-up comic Omid Djalili as Mahmud Nasir, a happily married moderate London Muslim.
When his son's girlfriend turns out to be the niece of a notoriously extreme Pakistani cleric, Mahmud agrees to pretend to be a more devout Muslim so that the union will be blessed. But, meanwhile, Mahmud receives some shocking news: not only was he adopted, but his birth name was Solly Shimshillewitz.
Devastated to find out that he's really a Jew, Mahmud tries to track down his birth parents.
For so broad a comedy, The Infidel aims at and hits some pretty impressive targets. It's on safer ground when lampooning Jewish clichés and culture, but ends up speaking for moderates on both sides of the great religious divide.