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My Son The Fanatic

Starring Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths
Screenplay by Hanif Kureishi
Directed by Udayan Prasad
website: www.miramax.com

IN SHORT: For art-house aficionados.

It's hard enough for an American set of ears to deal with a Northern English accent, it's even more difficult when there is a Pakistani accent competing for your aural attention, too. This is the case in My Son the Fanatic, with Indian film star Om Puri and Oscar® nominated actress Rachel Griffiths as the prostitute he falls in love with.

Before we begin, I know of at least one reader who didn't have accent trouble and who tremendously enjoyed the movie. Cranky doesn't hang out at the Angelica (New York's premiere art-house) and so hasn't developed the taste for serious, cross-cultural flicks. Even if I were, My Son The Fanatic is so aurally dense that two viewings would have been needed to properly appreciate it. Thus the rental rating it gets, 'cuz that's my rule. Here's the story, may it make it easier for those inclined to better enjoy the flick:

My Son The Fanatic is a classic assimilation story (coming right back at you to hit you in the face) kind of movie. When we first meet Pakistani cab driver Pervez (Om Puri) he is celebrating the engagement of son Farid (Akbar Kurtha), an accounting student, to the daughter of an English police detective. Pervez doesn't realize that the Caucasian Chief Inspector cannot stand the idea of daughter marrying a Pakistani; Doesn't want to be in the same room with him, which is representative of a lot of racial problems that have surfaced in England over the last decade or two.

Quiet and submissively serving at his side is his wife Minoo (Gopi Desai), who doesn't necessarily love him in the traditional Western sense. While Minoo yearns for the rigors of the Muslim culture that she grew up in, Pervez man wants to be English. He drinks scotch. Loves cricket. Listens to American music. He's given up his religious observance. He's proud of the town of Bradford, though he does regret the number of prostitutes walking the streets. Still, he's a professional taxicab driver, and a whore's money is as good as any man's. Pervez has assimilated into this new culture as much as a dark skinned immigrant can.

Hired to drive a German businessman (Stellan Skarsgard) about town as he sets up business, Pervez recommends the company of Bettina (Rachel Griffiths), a certain lady of lesser principles who he has taxied about the city. He will find himself working almost exclusively for the pair, individually and collectively, and will develop feelings for the girl.

While Pervez is proud of his son, Farid has fallen in with a fundamentalist Muslim group who hate the English culture, though the sect leader would love to live in the country. Minoo is delighted at the turn of events, as she locks herself away in the kitchen. When Farid gets Pervez' consent to allow a holy man and his entourage to live in the house, Pervez' assimilated goes down the crapper. You can see just how wicked these men, under the guise of their religion, are and how the women, having been raised in this civilization and culture, take it. You can see how Pervez, who ran away from the orthodoxy the first place, doesn't want it back in his life. His friendship with Bettina will come back to haunt him, and he will forced to make the decision between the wife and culture that he left behind, and the life and culture that he wants to adopt the which may not necessarily want him.

Cranky didn't have to refer to the press notes for anything other than the correct spelling of the names, which indicates that My Son The Fanatic is very well acted. If I got this much despite the accents, imagine what you'll get if you have no such problem.

That being written, you know who you are and whether you're inclined to spend the cash.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to My Son The Fanatic, he would have paid...


Rental level, as explained. Cranky's got rating rules to follow.

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is  Copyright © 1995  -  2013 by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.