One thing about summer around Casa De Butterfly y El Arbol is that we watch a lot of DVDs that get backed up on our NetFlix queues. Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel to Monarch of the Glen and McLeod’s Daughters. Movies are all over the place, too, from Horrorfest movies (Borderland) to modern classics like The Kite Runner.
Let me preface the review by saying I’ve not read the book, and that after seeing the film, I’m not sure I want to — the movie was a near-perfect experience. And heartbreaking. I’m not sure I could handle reading some of the gut-wrenching scenes while riding the 6 to work in the morning. I will say that the movie, while not perfect, is as amazing a film as I’ve seen in some time.
I won’t bore you with plot details, as you can find those elsewhere. Rather, I want to talk about the casting, the acting, the direction, and the cinematography. The actors playing the two boys were wonderful, completely pulling me into their stories. I think the boy playing Hassan was the better of the two, but that’s probably because his story was more compelling to me, especially with the denouement of his character toward the end. The adult Amir was excellent, too, bringing forward many of the qualities that the child actor had embodied.
The direction of the film was spectacular, keeping me very immersed in this tragic story spanning twenty two years. And the cinematography? Wow. Especially the kite flying scenes. Even though it wasn’t actually filmed in Afghanistan for the 1978-1979 scenes, I felt like I was looking at a documentary of how life was before the Mullahs, before the Soviets. Afghanistan was fighting to become modern, you can see that in the opening of the movie. Then the Soviets came and deforested the country, and we supported what became the Taliban.
There are scenes later in the film that take place in Kabul, circa 2000, that are a struggle to watch. The brutality of the Taliban is on display and it simply makes you furious how we screwed the pooch in that country after the WTC attacks. But that’s another rant for another day.
My only complaint about the film is centered on the scenes taking place in 1988 or thereabouts. They felt slow-moving to me, but didn’t do more than perhaps knock half a star off my final review.
Bottom line: Watch this movie. It’s spectacular, and the last half hour or so of the movie had me in tears repeatedly. It is a celebration of life amidst the horrors of a brutal world.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars