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My Son The Fanatic (1997)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Pakistan-born taxi driver Parvez and his wife Minoo visit the parents of their son Farid's prospective wife Madeleine. At the airport, Parvez picks up German businessman Mr Schitz, who seems very interested in the prostitutes thronging the streets.

Parvez drives Bettina, one of the prostitutes, and a client. When the latter has finished, Bettina takes Parvez to the countryside in order to show him her favourite retreat, just below disused viaduct.

Minoo asks Parvez why his old friend Fizzy is so much more successful. Parvez says it's because he's greedier - whereas Parvez is happy with the way things are. He looks out of the window and sees Farid and Madeleine arguing.

Schitz hires Parvez to take him to a disused factory that he wants to turn into an out-of-town shopping centre. He has taken a shine to Bettina, and asks Parvez if he's tried her. Parvez says that he respects women. Schitz retorts that respect is no substitute for pleasure.

Parvez goes to the bank where Madeleine works. She confirms his suspicion that the engagement is off, and says that Farid claimed that Parvez was arranging a marriage for him.

Bettina tells Parvez how to spot symptoms of drug abuse. Parvez returns home and confronts Farid. Farid tells him that he cannot marry Madeleine because their cultures cannot be mixed.

Parvez's Louis Armstrong records are drowned out by chanting from Farid's room. He follows him to a mosque. A man tells him that the group Farid has joined is no longer welcome, as they argue with the elders.

Parvez drives Schitz and Bettina to a club, where Parvez is singled out for abuse by a racist comedian. Schitz approves of Bettina's pluck at confronting him and suggests they call the police. Bettina says the police were sitting at the next table.

Schitz and Bettina snort cocaine and cavort in front of an embarrassed Parvez. Schitz invites him to enjoy Bettina when he's finished, but he prefers to fix his taxi sign outside. He drives Bettina home to her flat, where she complains that he talks more about Farid than himself. She kisses him on the cheek, then the mouth.

Parvez returns home to find Farid hosting a prayer meeting. Farid complains that the English are hypocrites, obsessed with sex and pornography while at the same time claiming he's backward. He asks Parvez if he can invite a maulvi, or spiritual leader, to stay. Parvez reluctantly agrees, but is furious when Farid reveals he has abandoned his accountancy studies. He accuses Parvez of swallowing white and Jewish propaganda. They bump into Schitz and Bettina outside. Schitz asks Parvez to organise some girls for a party he's having.

Parvez and Farid pick up the maulvi from the airport. Driving past the prostitutes, Farid complains that immorality is everywhere. The maulvi wonders why they don't do something about it.

Parvez goes out for a meal with Bettina, and blames himself for the way Farid is turning out. He drives her home, and sees that she has a more expensive wardrobe, and extensive bruising, both courtesy of Schitz. Parvez and Bettina make love.

Parvez is horrified to find that Minoo has been ordered to eat breakfast in the kitchen, away from the men. He drives past a demonstration against the prostitutes - Farid is one of the agitators.

Parvez drives a number of prostitutes to Schitz' party, during which he hears that a fifteen-year-old girl was badly beaten. Parvez's work colleagues spread rumours about him and Bettina. Back home, he overhears the maulvi urging "no violence".

Parvez drives Schitz past another demonstration, and follows it to the building where many of the prostitutes are based. A petrol bomb is hurled through the window, and when the women emerge they are attacked. Farid spits in Bettina's face, and is bundled into the cab by his irate father, who expels Schitz in the process. Back home, he orders Farid to evict the maulvi. Farid asks him who the real fanatic is.

Minoo discovers Parvez's relationship with Bettina, and returns to Pakistan. Farid also moves out to go and live with his fellow Islamic activists. After a brief, inconclusive conversation with Bettina, he returns home, alone.