The Infidel (2010)
Baddiel & Djalili
As a British Muslim Mahmud Nasir (Omid Djalili) has long lived with the issues which has arisen from the radical Muslim activist's making the headlines. But he is not too happy when he learns that his son's future mother-in-law has married a well known radical Muslim activist and he will have to approve the marriage which means Mahmud will have to show that he and his family are proper Muslims. But then Mahmud's life is completely turned upside down when he is clearing out his recently departed mum's house and discovers that not only was he adopted but in fact he is Jewish. As he tries to keep this from his family for the sake of his son's future he tries to come to terms with who he is with the help of Lenny Goldberg (Richard Schiff) an American Jewish cabbie.
I love context as it makes sense of the world, unfortunately it means that far too often things are taken out of context and it causes issues. Take for example someone sneezing and it sounding like they are saying "a-jew", out of context it could be taken as anti-semitic but when placed in the bigger picture of a man having just discovered he is Jewish and so everything is playing on his mind and everything around him triggering confusion it is funny. And that is what you get a whole lot of in "The Infidel" this sort of humour which on paper would sound anti-semitic yet in the context of the movie is priceless.
The comedy of Mahmud dealing with his revelation and trying to understand what being a Jew means in secret as not to spoil his son's future is the lifeblood of this movie but writer David Baddiel, director Josh Appignanesi and the movie's star Omid Djalili manage to build and deliver these jokes in such a way that they are more than throw away gags but are part of the stories growth. A scene early on where Mahmud almost crashes into a black cab driver twice and then berates him is funny but it is in fact the introduction to Lenny who first becomes Mahmud's nemesis and then grows to be a friend.
Unfortunately what this means when it comes to "The Infidel" is that it is nigh on impossible to get across how entertaining it is because it is hard to get across context and so when I say we have lots of humour built on stereotypes it sounds pretty flat. But "The Infidel" is genuinely one of the funniest British movies of recent years and manages to do something which sounds almost impossible which is to make a Muslim Jewish comedy.
What this all boils down to is that "The Infidel" on paper doesn't sound like it works but the writing of David Baddiel, direction of Josh Appignanesi and the delivery of Omid Djalili makes this a wickedly fun British movie.
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