Friday, March 28, 2008

The Kite Runner DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Adaptation of Afghani Best Seller Arrives on DVD

Written by Khaled Hosseini in 2003, The Kite Runner is an endearing account of the childhood friendship of two young Afghani boys which unfolds against the backdrop of political turmoil, ranging from the fall of the monarchy to the war with the U.S.S.R. to the rise of the Taliban. But the book has been simplistically adapted here into a safely sanitized tale of camaraderie and betrayal leading to overwhelming regret and, ultimately, a chance at redemption.
Told as a series of flashbacks set mostly in Kabul, the story opens in post-millennial San Francisco, which is where we meet middle-aged Amir (Khalid Abdalla) about to return to his native Afghanistan. The movie then immediately shifts to 1978 where we find him flying kites with his pal Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), the son of his father’s faithful manservant.
Initially, the inseparable playmates generally enjoy each other’s company, and forge a powerful bond, despite the class difference. However, this all changes forever the day that Hassan is beaten and raped by a gang of bullies because a fear-gripped Amir who failed to come to his buddy’s assistance.
Before Amir matures enough to explain his inappropriate response, his family flees to the U.S. to escape the impending Soviet invasion. Half a world away, his guilt gradually grew over the next 20 years, as he came to be haunted by his past betrayal and to yearn for a chance to express his remorse.
Unfortunately, the picture fails to engage the audience on a visceral level, in spite of its earnest endeavor to tug on one’s heartstrings. And by the time the closing curtain comes down, the supposedly touching resolution comes off as an anticlimactic afterthought, a surprising rabbit out of the hat reveal notwithstanding.
The book was better. What else is new?

Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, brief profanity, child rape and mature themes.
In Dari, Pashtu, Urdu, Russian and English with subtitles.
Running time: 127 minutes
Studio:Dreamworks Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Commentary by the director and the scriptwriters, theatrical trailer, plus “Words” and “Images” featurettes.

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