The Kite Runner Review

(Sorry for no video version of the review, but I’m currently visiting in Los Angeles) I didn’t know much about “The Kite Runner” until a while ago we heard the story about how the films producers wanted to get the two young child actors out of Afghanistan before they released the film out of concern for their safety. Publicity stunt or not, that was a classy move on their part since Afghanistan isn’t exactly the most secure place in the world right now. I heard much about the quality of the Khaled Hosseini book and I’ve been curious to see how it played out on screen.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the film. The main reason was because it appeared to revolve around child actors… and that happens I’m not usually impressed (there are exceptions obviously… but in general I don’t like it when child actors are put in a position where they’re supposed to lead a film). So off I went.

THE GENERAL IDEA

Amir grew up in Afghanistan during a much different time before the Russian invasion. His father was an affluent man with strong ideas and his very best friend, Hassan was the son of the house servant (who had been with the family as long as they can remember). Despite being servant and employer, the two boys share an incredible friendship and bond until a horrible incident pushes the two apart. Amir and his father are forced to flee to America when the Russians invade, and 20 many years later Amir receives a phone call letting him know that his old childhood friend Hassan needs his help… and Amir must return to Afghanistan.

THE GOOD

Remember in the introduction when I said I had mildly low expectations from the film because it was being lead by child actors? Yeah well… the two kids were awesome. There is something so enduringly pure about the innocence and bond between them that it was almost enough to choke me up a couple of times. It forced me to reflect a little when leaving the theater about why we adults (I use the term loosely in my case) don’t lavish in, celebrate or cherish our friendships like these two small boys living in and through difficult times? Sometimes when you look at children you see noisy bratty like mistakes…. but sometimes you look at them and you can see a better world. That’s when these kids in this movie did for me, and they portrayed it with a maturity well beyond their years.

The themes of guilt and shame are powerfully and yet subtlety draw on. I don’t want to give much away, but in the story a terrible betrayal happens between the boys… but only the guilty one knows about it… and that guilt that he lives with slowly make him start to push the other boy away, because the other boy becomes a living representation of his shame and is reminded of it now every time he sees him. It was so heart breakingly well played out that I almost wish the rest of the movie revolved around it and just dealt with that instead of the rest of the story.

Amir’s father is played by an actor named Homayoun Ershadi and I guaran-damn-tee you we will be seeing more of him in the future. He brought a wonderful sense of flawed power, imperfect strength and sometimes compromised ingegrity. A human man who believes strongly in right and wrong and does his best to instill that same sense in his young (and older) son.

THE BAD

Where the first 2 acts of the film played out beautifully, elegant and touching, the third act shifted gears and jars you. Suddenly the film feels more like “Mission Impossible” as the older Amir sneaks back into Afghanistan. The problem here is that while everything unfolded at a beautiful pace in the first two acts, the third feels rushed and spotty. The story also introduces major “coincidences” that were just a little to hard to swallow… and even then they should have been played out a little better. It was enough to take that sweet taste that the first part gave us… and soured it.

OVERALL

Had The Kite Runner been broken up into two separate films… the first film dealing with their childhood all the way up to Amir receiving that faithful phone call, and then the second film journeying with Amir as he goes back to Afghanistan, I think they both could have played out very well, but in cramming the two together, the brilliance if the first part is soured by the rush and disjointedness of the second. Still, the beautiful story of childhood friendship shines, and makes this film well worth watching… but don’t feel bad if you have to leave 20 minutes before the end of the film. Overall I give The Kite Runner a 6.5 out of 10.

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