By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Vantage.
The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner is The Namesake for Afghanis. Of course there were ethnically centered yet universally relatable lifelong stories before that, but that's the most recent one I can remember. The Afghanis have it tougher than the Indians too, but how else was I going to start this review?
Review: The Kite Runner
Growing up, Amir and Hassan were the best of friends even though Hassan was the son of Amir's father's servant. After a brutal tragedy, Hassan and his father part. Amir and his father move to America where Amir makes a life for himself, until family obligations require his return to Afghanistan during Taliban rule.
Of course there is some heavy material in here, but the film captures the joys of childhood just as well. The kids play around hints of the harsh reality in which they live, until that reality comes crashing down on them. Those events are brutal and disturbing, but not exploitative.
The film hits all the major milestones of life as Amir grows up, and avoids many clichés. While his father would prefer he become a doctor, he is supportive of Amir's writing, not the typical stubborn traditionalist. The signs of Amir's success are subtle, effectively showing the time pass.
When things get really awful, it is a compelling moral dilemma. Questions are asked. The film does not just wallow in guilt over the things that occur. It is scary and tense too. Hate and anger are more villainous qualities than any Hollywood screenwriter could come up with.
You've got to appreciate getting to live in a city or suburb. Things are totally run down in the good areas. The things that make these people happy would make the Super Sweet 16 kids kill themselves.
The kite scenes are even exciting. You can follow the hero and villain kites and understand what's going on.
Despite its intense subject matter, The Kite Runner manages to be a compelling, uplifting movie. Around Oscar time, it's easy for these films to just coast on drama, but this one actually succeeds in telling a story around the drama.