The Infidel is a little British comedy with big ideas. In some ways it’s a bit of high-concept film – that horrible Hollywood marketing term for a film which can be summed up in one sentence. Here’s the one sentence: a Muslim British man discovers that he was born Jewish.
Stand well back ignite. It could have wrong in one of 2 ways: it could have been staggeringly crass and insensitive; or it could have been insufferably earnest and self-righteous. It certainly isn’t the first, and it only verges on the second for about five minutes towards the end. It’s real and funny and true, earthed in the realities of multi-cultural London highlighting the simultaneous diversity and intolerance of the city of a hundred villages that will be wonderfully familiar to any who have lived there.
There are two strands to the film’s plot: one the man’s search for his father and his own roots, the other his daughter’s desired engagement and marriage. So it touches on keystones for diversity and maintaining distinctiveness, but no-one’s pretending it’s a major contribution to issues of holding ethnic and religious diversity together. In citing the ‘we all worship the same God’ argument however briefly at the end, it displays a theological ignorance that won’t seem to go away from the debate, especially from many of the apparently more intelligent observers.
Even so. It’s a bright, smart, funny and beautifully played film. It could only, really, have been made in the UK. And so much the better for it.