The Infidel

Film, Comedy
The Infidel
There is a truly great comedy to be made about religion in modern Britain: the infighting, the backbiting, the doublethink and grandstanding, and of course the ordinary, everyday believers caught in the middle. Close-to-the-bone identity-swap tale ‘The Infidel’ is not that film – but it comes damn close.

Stand-up comic Omid Djalili is Mahmud, a settled, non-practising Muslim family man whose life flips over when he discovers that not only was he adopted, but that his birth parents were orthodox Jews. Eager to learn more about his heritage, Mahmud turns to grouchy Jewish-American cab driver Lenny (Richard Schiff) for guidance.

‘The Infidel’ starts wonderfully, introducing us to a cast of carefully constructed stereotypes and then just as carefully it undermines them. Mahmud and Lenny are a terrific odd couple: there’s a real bromantic spark between Djalili and Schiff, both of whom clearly relish the opportunity to tackle taboo subjects headon. David Baddiel’s script is sharp, wise and very funny, and never flinches from exposing the hypocrisy and power games that fuel religious intolerance.

But the film struggles to maintain this high standard. An intriguing but underdeveloped subplot concerning the marriage of Mahmud’s son to the adopted daughter of a fundamentalist preacher begins to take over, pushing poor Lenny into the background and breaking up the perfectly pitched buddy dynamic that fuelled the earlier scenes. And gradually, inevitably, it drifts into worthiness: Baddiel doesn’t just want us to laugh, he wants us to learn. And here lies the film’s downfall, as what began as a smart, challenging exercise in boundary pushing becomes just another sentimental life lesson.

By: Tom Huddleston


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday April 9 2010
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Josh Appignanesi
Screenwriter: David Baddiel
Cast: Marcia Lucas
Omid Djalili
Archie Panjabi
Richard Schiff
1 person listening

It amazes me how Baddiel continues to turn out pointless, unfunny drivel and get away with it...this movie stinks, not one laugh, learnt nothing, pointless....ugh.

I laughed a lot. I loved the scene where he learns his birthname. Not too heavy but I liked more than most.

Why is it that the liberal press always try to support rubbish just because it is sending out the 'right political message? This film was super crap. It was written badly. Directed really badly. Long static shots of conversation all the way through.Rubbish jokes. What a waste of time. Why didn't you all slag it off like you did with that Film 'It's a wonderful afterlife'. It ruined my career but I'm not complaining.... I'm not bitter. Of course I was doing Goodness Gracious Me some years ago and I even blagged a gig with that old Monty Python lot - they used to be funny once... a bit like me. Now I'm Roger the Splodger on 'Grandpa in my Pocket'. Life is shite - just like this film. Bah Humbug!

Offensive or not, it was one of the worst films ive ever seen. For that there should be a law! Both story and structure in this poorly shot film seemingly were never checked once during its production. Unfunny at best, offensively bad and a waste of 2hrs at worst.

The only offensive thing about this film is how badly made and unfunny it is.

With reference to Sarah's comments below - The "film makers" (ie Producers) as she puts it are actually Muslim. Only writer & director's were Jewish. It's just a film - unclench!

Sarah think you need to lighten up, the film isnt taking the piss out of muslims at all. Your just being touchy. its a well thought out plot and is very funny. The only people laughing are the ones at you!