movie film review | chris tookey

Kite Runner

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  Kite Runner Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
5.71 /10
Amir: Khalid Abdalla, Young Amir: Zekiria Ebrahimi
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Directed by: Mark Forster
Written by: David Benioff, from Khaled Hosseiniís novel

Released: 2007
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 122

A decent, if flawed, attempt at filming a fine, modern novel by the Afghan-born American writer Khaled Hosseini. If Ian McEwan hadnít thought of the title first, it might easily have been called Atonement. It tells of Amir, an author remembering his privileged, westernised upbringing in Kabul, and his childhood friendship with a fellow kite-flyer, the lower-class Hazara servant Hassan. Amir witnesses the homosexual rape of his friend by a teenage bully, but is powerless to prevent it. Twenty years later, the grown-up and married Amir (Khalid Abdalla, pictured left) tries to compensate for his feelings of guilt, by travelling to the Taliban-controlled Kabul and adopting a child.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Director Marc Foster does a sound job of visualising the novel. He captures its central symbol with poetic intensity: the idea of kite-flying as symbolic not only of freedom but also of male aggression. He succeeds in communicating the idea that everyone deserves a chance to atone, and that it is a test of manhood to stand up for what is right, regardless of the personal consequences.

Forsterís pacing is off toward the start of the movie (too slow), but the gripping storyline comes into its own in the second half, and the adult Amirís journey to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is exciting. However, the inevitable filleting of a book which relies for its impact on detail and texture means that the contrived plotting and melodramatic characters are cruelly exposed Ė as is the irritating passivity of Amir. The book conceals this passivity, by making him the narrator of events and showing us everything from his point of view; the film is inevitably more objective.

The actor who comes across most strongly is Homayoun Ershadi, who plays Amirís father with the kind of uncompromising ferocity that helps to explain what foreign armies are up against when they arrive on Afghani soil. But the villains are a little too caricatured for my taste, and Alberto Iglesiasís score is over-emphatic.

The picture is going to be hard to sell to multiplex audiences, for much of it is subtitled and the movie runs over two hours. Those familiar with the book will find the film more superficial and sentimental, and itís nowhere near the quality of Forsterís best work, Finding Neverland. All the same, its nuanced performances and observation of an unfamiliar foreign culture, with its own standards of honour and dignity, make it worth seeing. The Kite Runner takes a while to get off the ground, but eventually it does take flight.

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