The Infidel is a concept movie about a cockney, Spurs-supporting Muslim who discovers that he was adopted at birth and that his father is actually a Jew. The pretty funny idea at the heart of this comedy, written by David Baddiel, is in fact not very original. It has been done before in 1992’s Leon the Pig Farmer in which a Jewish boy discovers that his sperm donor dad rears pigs.
In Iranian comedy actor Omid Djalili (who is neither Muslim or Jewish) director Josh Appignanesi has found an actor who plays the role of Mahmud for laughs but, more importantly, can elicit sympathy from the audience as he tries to find out more about his own heritage. It’s just such a crying shame that after a promising initial burst of energy, The Infidel runs out of steam as it heads mind numbingly into we-are-all-the-same-underneath territory.
As Mahmud tries to hide the truth from his friends and family, he finds solace in Lenny (Richard Schiff) the Jewish neighbour he has always hated, who revels in the fact that his sworn enemy is faced with this religious conundrum. But the conceit by which Lenny has to teach Mahmud about Judaism so that a rabbi (Matt Lucas) will let Mahmud see his dying father feels like it was conceived in a restaurant after one mango lassi too many.
Selected release from Fri 9 Apr.