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The Kite Runner

July 28, 2016

The Kite Runner (2007)
Director: Marc Forster
Actors: Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Zekeria Ebrahimi

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Synopsis: Amir (Khalid Abdalla) is a married writer living in the suburbs of San Francisco. A phone call from an old family friend sets him on a journey back to his homeland of Afghanistan, and lends him the opportunity to right a profound wrong from his youth…

Review: As ever, the task of transferring a worldwide literary bestseller satisfactorily to the screen proves beyond the filmmaker in question (in this case, Marc Forster), although Forster can’t solely blame the impossibility of condensing the breadth of a 350-page novel into two hours of screen time, but his own shoddy realisation too.

“The Kite Runner” is an admittedly problematic source novel for any adaptor: there’s not only the sweeping, plotty narrative but also the challenge of realising a story that is set for much of its time in the remote, inaccessible climes of war-torn Afghanistan and its now blighted neighbour, Pakistan. Thus, my heart sunk – though I wasn’t surprised – when the opening scenes of the young boys in Afghanistan reeked of twee ethnic cliché as the customs and landscape of Kabul (or for what passes as Kabul in this film) is ticked off in one rank montage.

Adding to the film’s many errors of judgement is an attempt to play into the ‘child’ subject matter too much by crafting a ghastly, literal-minded score and in turning the seminal kite competitions into an elongated exposition of naff CGI when the focus of these competitions should have been on the psychology of the boys and the peoples of the city, not what’s actually happening to two kites in an artificial skyline.

The film is well served by excellent performances, especially Homayoun Ershadi as the charismatic father-figure Baba. Ershadi imbues his figure with the right mixture of gravitas and fecklessness that makes the late reveal of his life-long secret that much more comprehensible. Sadly, the rest of the adaptation fares less well – especially how the wrought complexities of Amir’s attempts to first save and then adopt young Sohrab is subsumed into a treacly action-hero punch-up then kitsch kite running coda at the end: conveniently overlooking the book’s more sobering depiction of suicide attempts and the red-tape of international adoption. (July 2016)

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