The Taqwacores (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/08/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Watchable micro-budget drama that's worth seeing for its stereotype-busting characters and ideas but it's let down by an uneventful, underwritten plot, some dodgy acting and a frustratingly passive lead character.

What's it all about?
Directed by Eyad Zahra, The Taqwacores is based on a novel by Michael Muhammed Knight and stars Bobby Naderi as nice Muslim boy Yusef, who moves to Buffalo, New York for university. When he moves into what's been advertised as an Islamic flatshare he expects to find orthodox Muslims like himself, but instead finds a group of devotees to the West Coast Muslim punk Taqwacore scene.

These include: spiky-haired Jehangir (Dominic Rains), who performs his prayers with an electric guitar on the roof, permanently shirtless skater Amazing Ayyub (Volkan Eryaman), dope-smoking anarchic Fasiq (Ian Tran), burqa-wearing women's rights devotee Rabeya (Noureen DeWulf) and devout Umar, who's found his own solace in the American hardcore punk 'straight edge' subculture of abstinence. Through his growing friendship with Jehangir, Yusef finds himself exploring his own faith, which is challenged still further when he develops an attraction towards Lynn (Anne Leighton), an American girl who's recently converted.

The Good
Dominic Rains is excellent as the likeable, laid-back and extremely charismatic Jehangir, who essentially serves as both the audience's and Yusef's introduction to the Taqwacore culture. There's also strong support from Noureen DeWulf (whose face we glimpse only briefly in the course of the film) and Anne Leighton is an appealing, but under-used presence as Lynn.

In addition, Zahra makes the most of his micro-budget (the film basically takes place on a single set) and the music is excellent, though there's not quite enough of it.

The Bad
The Taqwacores is much stronger as an eye-opening, stereotype-busting collection of characters and ideas than it is as a drama, to the point where you'll wish you were watching a documentary about the Taqwacore scene instead. It's also ultimately let down by a lack of plot (the romance angle is tantalisingly raised and then swiftly dropped, for example) and a lead character who is frustratingly passive; it also doesn't help that Naderi is the weakest actor, which makes it difficult to engage with Yusef on an emotional level.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Taqwacores is worth seeing for its very existence, in that it gives a fascinating glimpse into a subculture that's completely ignored by the mainstream press, but it's ultimately let down by a lack of plot and fails to satisfy as an emotional drama.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 03:06

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