Changez is a young Muslim man from Pakistan who wins a place at Princeton to study business.
Highly gifted, he is a fund mentalist, able to forecast fiscal performance of companies with alarming alacrity.
He becomes a protégé of a major mergers manager, an acquisitions hatchet man, Jim Cross, (Keiffer Sutherland) who works for elite valuation firm Underwood Samson.
Part of the Wall Street elite, Underwood Samson know the price of everything and the value of nothing, and Cross is the kind of cove that makes Gordon Gekko look like a fairy godmother.
Changez buys into the American Dream big time, romancing the niece of a big shot board member of his firm. She’s an artist with so much emotional baggage the courtship is a guilt edged invitation to the blues.
He’s willing to carry this luggage as a labour of love but is put out when his portering is portrayed in her puerile art piece as a pandering, panting, puppy love Paki, the private and intimate put on public view.
Back in Lahore, his poet papa considers his employment a prostitution of principles. This perception becomes self-evident when Changez is sent to Turkey to goose a publisher, a cultural icon traduced by a penny-pinching Greenback bottom line.
Commerce coerced and corrupted the need for greed up to speed, the events of September 11, 2001, put a different complexion on Changez meteoric rise in Mammon. His complexion puts him on collision course with U.S. Homeland security, his Ivy League credentials cutting no mustard with the white breads playing catch-up after being caught with their towers down.
A victim of racial profiling, unhappy with the ethics and methods of his employer, unlucky in love all prompt Changez to make big changes and return to Pakistan, the proverbial prodigal packing it in and picking up a new path as a professor.
Lahore houses a contingent of CIA spooks and when an American academic is kidnapped off the streets the operatives believe Changez knows something about the snatch.
They send a journalist in their pay, Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) to inveigle under cover of interview, convinced Changez has become politicised and part of the plot to hold Uncle Sam to ransom.
The twin towers of hubris and arrogance cast an ugly shadow, a reputedly democratic power turning demonic in unbridled trampling of foreign domestic sovereignty.
Riz Ahmed in the title role gives a terrifically textured performance, torn between culture, filial responsibility, and the complexity of what is “fundamental” and how foundation can become base, tradition interned to terrorism. Further proof that east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet. Until there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!