Suspicious Minds


In Carl Gonzalez’s entertaining dark comedy, New Jersey housewife Claire (Glory Gallo) hosts a Tupperware-style party (featuring “spider hole” cakes with gummy Saddams in the middle) that goes awry when her daughter’s Afghani math tutor, Robina (Sarah Miriam Aziz), shows up. Intending only to drop off some books, Robina instead gets stuck when the police blockade the roads to hunt for a suspected terrorist on the loose. Thrust together in Claire’s living room, the women make awkward conversation with Robina, initially believing she is the terrorist (“She’s liable to jihad us all,” one woman says idiotically), and then hilariously attempt to sell her kitchen products.

Inspired by the famous National Geographic cover image of the “Afghan Girl,” Gonzalez places the photo in the room as Claire’s daughter’s school project, an intriguing conversation piece that triggers a debate on whether the girl would’ve had a better life in America. Of the talented six-member cast, Amy Bizjak is the standout as Claire’s racially insensitive sister, Beth, who’s angry that her military-enlistee son is being sent to Afghanistan and takes it out on Robina. Derek Jamison’s taut direction maintains suspense as emotions spiral toward a shocking conclusion.