The Taqwacores Movie Review
Yusef (Naderi) is a good Muslim who moves to Buffalo for university. There he moves into an Islamic flatshare, but his roommates aren't what he expects: devout Umar (Mann), punk rocker Jehangir (Rains), shirtless skater Ayyub (Eryaman), anarchic Fasiq (Tran) and burqa-wearing party girl Rabeya (DeWulf).
They all gather for prayers in the living room, which doubles as a mosque. And they're getting ready to host a weekend of Taqwacores, Muslim punk musicians from a movement that started on the West Coast.
As these people mix together, it's clear that the only thing they have in common is their strong Muslim faith, which each one expresses in a different way. This of course challenges Yusef to explore his own faith. Some of them have views on sex and drugs that are far from orthodox, but Yusef finds a way to fit in and even embrace the Taqwacore scene, which like the 70s punk scene is a confrontational reaction to the establishment (think stars of David instead of swastikas).
The film has a loose, scruffy tone that skilfully draws us in. The characters are lively and likeable, and they continually defy media portrayals of Islam that are based on fear-mongering, ignorance and bald-faced lies. These are heard coming from the TV and radio, although it's doubtful that these people would be able to stomach quite this much Fox News. And even people with an understanding of the variety of Islamic thought will be surprised by the filmmaker's observations.
The movie strains to be wacky and revolutionary, but it has a strong autobiographical quality to it in that this truth is much stranger than the fiction we have been led to believe. This is a group of Muslims who don't fit in anywhere, and they're frustrated that they're lumped in with a disenfranchised subculture. So their in-fighting and disagreements are extremely plausible. As Jehangir says, "Allah is too big for my religion to be small and narrow."
Cast & Crew
Director : Eyad Zahra
Producer : Eyad Zahra
Screenwriter : Michael Muhammad Knight, Eyad Zahra
Starring : Bobby Naderi, Dominic Rains, Nav Mann, Volkan Eryaman, Noureen DeWulf, Ian Tran, Anne Leighton, Tony Yalda