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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.94%
Worth A Look: 35.29%
Average: 20.59%
Pretty Bad38.24%
Total Crap: 2.94%

4 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Kite Runner, The
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by Erik Childress

"Gotta Be Jeffrey Lyons' Favorite Film Of The Year"
2 stars

Adaptations are a fun way to begin an argument with book lovers. Itís a clichť that movies are never as good as the source material they stem from. Despite being two different entities, you can never form a legitimate separation unless you have experienced both. Even then, itís the order of that experience thatís going to form the opinion of the other. A book is almost always denser than its cinematic counterpart, but occasionally its trims make for a tighter narrative. I make no bones about never having read Khaled Hosseiniís 2003 best seller, The Kite Runner, nor understanding all the quips about ďchild rapeĒ that apparently was a large part of its plotting. This much I do know though. Marc Forsterís film version is more than just an unengaging snoozer of the first order. It also calls into question why Hosseiniís novel was such a chart-climber in the first place other than being one of the first published pieces of fiction to use the Taliban as a subplot after 9/11.

Growing up in Kabul, Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) are best friends who share a love for ďkite fightingĒ, a sport of sorts where you attempt to cut an opponentís flyer and ground it for good (something that would have made my kite flying days more exciting.) Amirís father, Baba (Homayon Ershadi), wishes the boy would be more active than writing stories in his bedroom and tends to dote on Hassan (the son of his servant) more, including buying him a shiny new kite on his birthday. That kite becomes a major catalyst on the day of the big kite-off (or whatever itís called) when the Amir-Hassan team slices their way to victory and a showdown with fate courtesy of a local bully.

Proving the kind of cowardice his father has told us about, Amir does nothing to help his friend and in some manner of masking his shame and the horrific memory of what happened to Hassan, he tries to frame him for theft. And just in time for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan forcing Amir and Baba to flee for America. While things may not be financially on par, Amir goes to college, continues to write and meets the pretty Soraya (Atossa Leoni) whom he will eventually marry thanks to some family smoothing from dad. Things arenít as Rosy back home for Hassan though. A phone call from dadís business partner (and the mentor for Amirís writing) Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub) wants to give Amir a ďway to be good again.Ē This benevolent plan involves him flying back to Kabul and into the lionís den of the Taliban to set things right with Hassan.

Amir has a long way to go towards redemption and this story does him no favors by stacking the deck against him every which way from who he is to the half-hearted machinations of its final third. Once the wheels are set in motion with that heavy-handed psyche massage, the majority of the film is played in flashback until Amir makes his journey for salvation around the 85-minute point. Hassan has literally become an afterthought and isnít even given a proper burial in our minds before additional revelations cloud and question the necessity for the long American section when the real story has finally presented itself. Do we need scene after scene to further implement what an absolute wuss-puss tool Amir is? Baba is the filmís source of strength throughout, something Amir can never live up to, particularly after dad selflessly stands up to a Russian soldier to protect the honor of a stranger.

Doing little to clarify the local prejudices for the ignoramus majority (myself included), The Kite Runner is left strictly to its story points which are less than compelling in great part to following around the least interesting character in the piece. His redemptive guilt trip back to the homeland is a too-little and way-too-late plot point that has none of the strength of the glue holding on Amirís fake beard. The final act and its cartoonish escape is conveniently staged for those who donít need their dramas to do any of the heavy lifting as long as the outcome is in their favor. Our way of thinking weíre reading up on the Taliban instead of reading into them.

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originally posted: 12/14/07 16:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/05/10 Mellissa its a really good movie to watch 5 stars
2/03/09 daveyt excellent, little Hassan breaks your heart! 4 stars
9/05/08 pHylum How could the book leave out therapy? How could the film leave out the bathtub? 2 stars
8/21/08 jcjs takes a wee too long to tell and excellent story...good show 4 stars
6/12/08 Jayson Broke my heart. 4 stars
3/30/08 M Read the book 1st! 4 stars
2/04/08 Veronica Jarvis It was a very good movie, but you should read the book first! 4 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic Its robotic execution doesnt match its ambition to tell an adult story 1 stars
12/19/07 Joe V Refreshing in portraying the simple drama of the story. 4 stars
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  14-Dec-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Mar-2008



Directed by
  Marc Forster

Written by
  David Benioff

  Khalid Abdalla

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