Sharia don’t like it, rock the casbah! Years after The Clash, Muslim punk comes out snarling in this adaptation of Michael Muhammad Knight’s 2004 novel – the inspiration for today’s tradition-baiting US Islamic hardcore scene. This slice-of-life movie unfolds in wintry Buffalo, as quiet Pakistani student Yusuf (Bobby Naderi) finds his new houseshare peopled by leather-jacketed fellow Muslims who play guitar and guzzle beer yet remain dutiful in their prayers.
Such contradictions prove puzzling at first yet they constitute an earnest search for identity in a country that treats them with suspicion and a religion that restricts self-expression. Eyad Zahra’s film offers variable performances and is evidently half-formed as drama, yet its passionate, even shocking, defiance wins us over. Sometimes it’s enough to say: ‘We exist! Deal with it!’.