Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, Deja Vu) is perfectly cast in writer/director Cyrus Nowrasteh's latest motion picture Infidel, a captivating film centered around an American journalist/blogger (Caviezel) who is kidnapped and taken hostage by the Iranian regime after speaking at a conference in the Mideast. An outspoken Christian, he is put on trial on trumped up espionage charges while his wife (Claudia Karvan, Long Weekend) slowly begins to realize that the U.S. government has no intention of stepping in on his behalf and tries to take matters into her own hands before she runs out of time.
Opening nationwide on September 18th, Infidel is yet another intriguing film from the always interesting Nowrasteh. Never afraid of speaking truth even when controversy may follow, Nowrasteh has alternately been known to trigger both conservatives and liberals with such films as The Day Reagan Was Shot, The Stoning of Soraya M., The Young Messiah, and The Path to 9/11 television mini-series. Infidel is his second collaboration with Caviezel, whose faith is often front-and-center within his cinematic efforts including what is arguably his most recognized film to date in The Passion of the Christ.
Infidel is to be released by Cloudburst Entertainment, a new and up-and-coming indie distributor started by former Pure Flix execs Steve Fedyski and Ken Rather.
Oh, and trust me. While Infidel is undeniably a film about faith it is definitely not a Pure Flix title.
The caution flags are likely to be up with Infidel, an interesting production collaboration between the always controversial D'Souza Media along with Cloudburst and New Path Pictures. While there's definitely a pro-Christian, at least modestly anti-Muslim angle to the film it is based upon a true story and for the most part Nowrasteh's storytelling sticks to the known facts.
Caviezel and Karvan have worked together before and you can feel their chemistry in the film's early scenes, a recent tragedy having given her a crisis of faith while seemingly intensified his faith commitment. Nowrasteh's storytelling wisely avoids histrionics, instead trusting the power of the story itself and the ability of the actors to drive it all home.
Indeed, they do.
Caviezel has always seemed like one of those guys who actually would die for his faith and he brings a stoic intentionality here as a man for whom his faith may very well cost him his life. It's yet another passion-filled performance from Caviezel, whose entire career has seemingly been built on similar performances.
As his wife, Karvan radiates the kind of normalcy you might expect from a State Department employee who's likely worked in similar situations before but never on the receiving end on the trauma and drama. There's one scene, in particular, inside an Iranian apartment that is simply mesmerizing as Karvan exudes both vulnerability and a re-emerging faith.
Hal Ozsan is tremendously effective as the film's prime bad guy, nicely avoiding caricature and laser-focused on his mission at hand in a rather frightening way.
Natalie Holt's original music is strong throughout, while Joel Ransom's lensing for the film is observational and captures both the beauty and menace of the world in which this story unfolds. Secretly filmed in Jordan, though it's noted Iran eventually learned of Nowrasteh's presence in Amman, Infidel is an absolutely beautiful film yet it's that beauty that makes the story even more haunting.
While theaters continue to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there's little denying that a film like Infidel is going to have its audience and Christian moviegoers have been hungry for some fresh entertainment. Nowrasteh tells a compelling story and tells it well. Likewise, Caviezel helps bring it beautifully to life along with the film's solid ensemble cast. It's incredibly likely that Infidel will join Nowrasteh's other films in attracting at least a little bit of controversy and happy moviegoers who enjoy the stories that he continues to tell. There's something refreshing about Nowrasteh's matter-of-fact boldness, a willingness to speak his truths whether it's conservative or liberal or libertarian or simply the faith that he lives.
Infidel opens nationwide on September 18th from Cloudburst Entertainment.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic