January 4, 2008

REVIEW: The Kite Runner (A)

Background: I didn't read the book. Gasp. Go ahead. OK...done? The Kite Runner is the highly-anticipated film adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's novel by the same name, which, if you didn't know, swept America by storm in 2003. Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction) directs the screenplay that was adapted by David Benioff (The 25th Hour, Troy). Starring are Khalid Abdalla (United 93 - the best film of 2006) and a host of supporting characters (several from Iran), including three amateur child actors from Afghanistan whose safety was in danger in the months prior to the film's release due to the tribal shame expected from a scene in the movie. This in fact delayed the release of The Kite Runner, which was filmed in China and features authentic dialogue in Dari, a Persian dialect spoken in Afghanistan.

Synopsis: Amir (Abdalla) is the son of a wealthy Pashtun in 1970's Kabul. His best friend, Hassan, is a Hazara boy who works along with his father as a servant for Amir's father. The two boys ignore their tribal and class differences as they develop into the best kite flying duo in Kabul. On the day of their greatest victory, Amir silently witnesses the assault and rape of Hassan by local Pashtun teens. Their friendship immediately frays as Amir is privately racked with guilt and orchestrates the resignation of Hassan and his father as the family servants. As the Soviets invade, Amir flees for California with his father, where they work in the local flea market. Here Amir meets his future wife Sonaya and goes onto to become a successful novelist in the Bay Area, until in 2000 he receives a call from his father's oldest friend in Kabul who is asking him to return and rescue Hassan's son from the the Taliban. Amir reluctantly sets off on the journey that he hopes will atone for the sins that have haunted him for 20 years. Kabul has obviously become a different world, and Amir's only chance for redemption is to learn the local culture and fight his inner demons.

I Loved:
+ The sweeping cinematography and aerial shots of what was supposed to be Kabul and its surrounding mountains.
+ Khalid Abdalla, who carried the movie from the first to the last frame. Hopefully more to come from this talented actor, who reluctantly took the role of a terrorist in United 93.
+ The final scene and powerful, memorable last line. I cried through the credits.
+ The charm and talent of Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada as Hassan.

I Liked:
The scene in which Amir reads the letter from Hassan. Starts out schmaltzy, ends up devastatingly heartbreaking.
+ The scene in which Amir and his escort visit the orphanage in Kabul.
+ The supporting performances by Iranian actors Atossa Leoni as Soraya and Homayoun Ershadi as Baba. He'll be overlooked when Supporting Actor nominations are announced January 22nd.

I Disliked:
- The scene in which Amir speaks to Sohrab, which felt a little contrived and/or awkward.
- A little bit of drag here or there, which was the awkwardness that comes when a director can only communicate with the actors through translators.

I Hated:
- The poor special effects of all the fake kites flying around.

Writing - 9
Acting - 10
Production - 9
Emotional Impact - 10
Music - 5
Significance - 5

Total: 48/50= 96% = A

Last Word: For those 3 or 4 of us in America who have not read the book, The Kite Runner is likely one of the best films we've seen all year. At least I can say that. It's certainly the best story told on screen in 2007, with The Namesake in second place. It's a visual delight with truly believable acting and moments of real suspense, humor, and drama. The casting was absolutely perfect and the only weakness in the production is the kite flying. Aside from your problems with how it differed from the book, I don't know what else you can criticize about the movie on its own merit, and of course that's what I'm interested in here. Marc Forster has done an admirable job as far as I'm concerned, and were it not for the millions and millions of people holding him accountable to the novel, he would probably be preparing a speech for Oscar night.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails