The Kite Runner (2007)

Director: Marc Foster
Plot: After spending years in California, Amir returns to his homeland in Afghanistan to help his old friend Hassan, whose son is in trouble.

Genre: Drama
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - original score.
Runtime: 122min
Rating: PG for strong thematic material including the rape of a child, violence and brief strong language.




Just like the Oscar-nominated picture, Atonement, The Kite Runner represents another flawed literary adap
tation. Overall, it’s one of the better 'foreign-themed' dramas of the year. But still, it doesn't even attempt to reach the lofty heights accomplished by recent foreign-language films like The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, and Volver. The film is essentially based in two different locations (America and Afghanistan) and in two different timelines (separated by a period of nearly two decades).

Director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) does well for most parts, especially for scenes in Afghanistan (which are filmed in China for security reasons). He’s not to blame for the flaws of the film; in fact without Forster’s experience behind the camera, The Kite Runner might have degenerated into a much less solid picture. The scenes in Afghanistan are made so culturally rich and vibrant that it’s almost unbelievable to think that it was filmed in China. The Oscar-nominated score by Alberto Iglesias captures ideally the atmosphere of the Middle East, sounding both Arabic and Oriental, and is mostly played at a high tempo which complements the film's quick pacing.

The Kite Runner reminds of Cinema Paradiso in terms of plot progression. We witness the development of the main character, Amir, from an early age to adulthood, observing how he interacts and treats his close companions. After being away for a very long time in another country, he's pulled back to his original roots by a tragic incident. While Forster's direction is good, the direction the story takes is far from excellent. Away from Afghanistan, the subject matter gets too familiar, the characters become more faceless, and the cultural essence of the film disappears.

The Kite Runner saves itself from further criticism though with an action set-piece three-quarters into the film, which is gritty yet surprisingly nail-biting. The final sentence of the film uttered by Amir is quite a satisfying tear-jerking moment, a befitting conclusion to an otherwise slightly-effective-slightly-disappointing motion picture.

SCORE: 7.5/10

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