Just as race relations in America will be forever affected by slavery, so will race relations in Europe be complicated by colonialism. Likewise, the situation many immigrants face in England is similar to that faced by blacks in America: One generation remembers the subservient role it played in an awkwardly maintained artificial class structure, while the next is angrily fighting to reclaim its national identity. Udayan Prasad's My Son The Fanatic paints a compelling portrait of the effect this cultural suppression and forced reeducation can have on a person. Written by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette), the film centers on a hard-working Pakistani cab driver (Om Puri) and the internal conflict that arises when his son (Akbar Kurtha) rejects Western tenets and begins to explore Islamic fundamentalism. For Kurtha, the West is synonymous with materialism and racism; for Puri, it offers everything his family can't offer, from old jazz records to a friendship with a hooker (Rachel Griffiths, heart of gold) whose profession, by necessity, transcends class boundaries. When Puri picks up an obnoxious German businessman (Stellan Skarsgård), he finds his moneyed arrogance appealing, but Skarsgård's conspicuous wealth, power, and increasingly bigoted behavior reminds Puri that he lives in a place that even now only grudgingly accepts his presence. Puri's pockmarked face, full of youthful exuberance and bewilderment, drives My Son The Fanatic through its more melodramatic moments, though, like his characters, Kureishi has trouble reconciling the film's two poles of extremism (capitalism and religious aestheticism). The ending may cop out on a clear resolution, but Prasad's direction makes palpable the lonely frustration of a man who can no longer understand the world around him.

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