Friday, 1 February 2008
The Kite Runner
In 1978 Kabul, before the Russians, and before the Taliban, two young boys fly their kites in the clear blue skies of Afghanistan. Amir is the son of a wealthy intellectual, while his best friend Hassan is the son of the family’s long-time servant. The boys are like brothers until a single act of violence and cowardice shatters their bond. Fast forward to modern-day Los Angeles, where Amir, now a budding author, receives a phone-call summoning him back to strife-ridden Afghanistan to make amends for his childhood sin.
Based on Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, this film covers epic emotional and physical territory. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) vividly brings to life the complexities of a history and culture we only know from sketchy news coverage. The backbone of the story, and its greatest strength, is the patrician father (Homayoun Ershadi) courageously adapting to life’s reversals, maintaining his dignity even as he serves as an LA garage attendant. Not so strong is the adult Amir (Khalid Abdalla), whose performance feels stilted and unnatural – though perhaps this is just the burden of shame he’s supposed to carry. Nevertheless, a beautiful and enlightening film.
(This review first appeared in The Big Issue 14 Jan)