Mike at the Movies: The Kite Runner

"There is a way to be good again."

Directed by Mark Forster (Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland & Upcoming: James Bond), The Kite Runner is adapted from Khaled Hosseini's best selling book of the same name.

Above: Official Trailer for The Kite Runner
Rated: 12A
Running Time: 127 mins
Dreamwork Pictures

"-just saw the ‘kite runner’ at the flicks … very sad film, and yet hopeful & uplifting in that bittersweet way - think i’m easily played emotionally, push the right buttons and all of a sudden the air is filled with grit and it’s slipped annoyingly into my eyes again."

O'DB in a comment on the film at the site Go!Smellthe Flowers.

So what did I think?
The film has had mixed reviews, but I was determined to see it. So last night I stocked up on my extra large popcorn and coke and settled down to watch it.


I loved it.
It made me fight back a swell of tears.
It made my wife cry.

And listen, you can pick holes, but when a film reaches out from the screen and connects with me, then it is job done as far as I am concerned.
The marvel of it is that it can do that even though it is culturally as far removed from me as is possible. And there lies the films (and the books) strength. For it communicates against the backdrop of Afghanistan, Soviet invasions and the terror of the Taliban, universal themes of friendship, love, betrayal and redemption.

And the cherry on top for me?

Well, I loved the book, The Kite Runner, which was semi autobiographical. What I didn't like was the plot twist at the end, which was bolted on by Khaled for fear of the story not standing on its own merit.

So when the main character Amir says this in the film:

It's my story, I get to end it how I want.

I was hopeful that Sohrab's suicide attempt, which was a false and contrived dramatic ending before the true one, would not be in the film.
It wasn't and it made the film a more honest story. Almost if Khaled got to show the story how he really wanted it. ( He worked closely with the film making process.)

A few nice touches and bits that connected, taken from the screenplay:

Amir smiles at the beautiful face in the mirror
What do you see?
I see the rest of my life.

I piss on the beards of those self-righteous monkeys.

Hassan stoops to pick up a pomegranate. He walks to Amir, tearing the fruit open in his hands. Hassan crushes the pomegranate against his own forehead. Juice drips down his face. He turns and walks away from Amir, down the hill. Amir stares after him, tears filling his eyes.

Weak bits?

I liked the fact that the Afghanistan bits were in Dari (at the insistence of director Mark Forster). But when the subtitles showed off screen dialogue, like the boys shouting as they raced to get their kites, it jarred and wasn't needed as the images portrayed what was going on.

And in the first third of the film in Afghanistan, I thought the cinematography and screenplay could have been more atmospheric and less like watching a TV drama.

Author, Khaled Hosseini interview.

Problems for the child actors, who had to leave Afghanistan fearing for their safety over this scene: "Hassan doesn't struggle. Doesn't whimper. His face is blank."

Screen Writer, David Benioff Interview.

Actor, Khalid Abdalla Interview.

Read my review of Khaled Hosseini's second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.


Anonymous said...

A great review Mike and thanks for sharing...

Tis on our list for sure!

Unknown said...

I am going to watch it after reading your review. I normally avoid watching the movies of my favorite books as they always ruin it but you have sold me on this one

Mike French said...

Go! Smell the Flowers:

Thanks, now Go! Fly your Kite.


Always tricky with a book you love, but in this case you should be safe! Let me know what you think.

Jones. Bridget Jones. said...

Mike, your review has got Bridget hooked on both the movie and the book! Definitely on her list this year.

Stella said...

Adding "The Kite Runner" to my reading list. Thanks :)

Michael J. Kannengieser said...

Hi Mike,
I read the book a while ago and was deeply moved by the writing. I loved the book, as brutal and harsh as it was. The ending was bittersweet, and I only hope the movie was faithful to the protaganist's somewhat jealous and ultimately guilty narrative. There were so many nuances to the novel that I would think the movie would have to be four hours long to accomodate the subject matter. I will see this when I feel I am ready for it; yet I don't think I can see such a heart wrenching film in a movie theatre with a bunch of teenagers yacking away behind me and throwing popcorn. Thanks for the review, Mike. Great job. -Michael

Mike French said...

Bridget Jones: Hiya my Flower pal, great stuff, hope you enjoy!

Stella: And when you have finished that, try A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author.

Mr Grudge:
"I only hope the movie was faithful to the protaganist's somewhat jealous and ultimately guilty narrative."

I think it did mate.


I heard Chris Evans (Radio2 DJ in the UK) who is famous over here, tell about how when he went to see a film last year in the afternoon, he had someone making a noise in front of him as he was trying to watch.
He said something like:
"I don't normally say anything, but I leant forward and shushed him. His reaction was to turn around and to tell me to go F**k off!"

So you have a point Mr Grudge!