Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Kite Runner

Lowdown: A tale of personal redemption mirroring the tale of Afghanistan.
There is a first time for everything, and in the history of this blog The Kite Runner becomes the first time ever I get to review the film version of a book I had previously reviewed. This means that while, in general, I don't particularly like comparing the book to the film because I feel the differences in the media forms make such a comparison problematic, I couldn't help looking for what I took with me out of the book while watching the film's DVD.
It has to be said the film is very loyal to the book, which is why I am not going to recount the plot or express my opinion on what is wrong with its predictability; feel free to read my book review instead.
The film does cut corners as it tries to fit an entire book into a two hour frame of work, so character development suffers: While the first half of the book mostly tells us of the friendship between to Afghan kids of different ethnicities, the film seems to cut to the chase with fewer childhood stories. Does the film suffer as a result? Probably, because the characters do not have the shades of gray real people have; yet when compared to other films, The Kite Runner does a decent job.
What else can I say about the film version? It was nice that the filmmakers tried to be authentic and cast seemingly Afghan kids in the main roles and even let the kids speak the authentic language (I can clearly imagine the fights that had to be fought in order to let the studio accountants let this one go). The problem is, these kids are not the greatest actors ever. Interestingly enough, I was constantly distracted by the physical similarities between one of the kids and my own childhood photos.
Another problem that interfered with my suspension of disbelief was the laid back style chosen by the director. This approach made key scenes pass by rather unnoticed whereas I would have expected them to be made in a way that would make my heart stand still. The best example is the scene where the boy's father confronts a Soviet soldier and is about to find himself riddled with bullets; the way the scene was done made me feel rather indifferent.
Other than that, The Kite Runner is a fairly ordinary film with somewhat exciting plot that deals with a problematic topic (Afghanistan).
Worst scene: The kite "fighting" scenes are just bad; they're not exciting at all, it's hard to tell what's going on, and the use of CGI is too evident.
Technical assessment: Not a bad picture for a DVD. The sound is subtle yet effective.
Overall: The Kite Runner dwells somewhere between 3 to 3.5 stars out of 5.

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