The Kite Runner
This adaptation of Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini’s popular novel arrives in cinemas trailed by the news that its two young stars have been evacuated out of Afghanistan by the film’s producers, for fear of reprisals from still active Sunni Muslim fundamentalists. Why and for what reason is a question that will no doubt drive ticket sales up, while also providing a lesson as regards attaching liberal sentiment to aggressive distribution.
Luckily, there are many other reasons to see this gripping and moving film about Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and his best friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), the son of his father’s servant. The boys are of different ethnic backgrounds. Amir is Pashtun while Hassan is Hazara, the latter being regarded as inferior in Afghanistan’s complex cultural system. The boys are happy flying kites and generally doing what young boys do until the Taliban insurgency in the mid 1990s catches up with them in a violent and tragic way. Told from the perspective of the grown up Amir (Khalid Abdalla), who lives in the US — this is a story of grief, regret and attempts at redemption.
The always-interesting German/American filmmaker Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction) directs with an immediacy, passion and musicality that brings to mind the work of Mira Nair (particularly Salaam Bombay and Monsoon Wedding). The fact that David 'Troy' Benioff’s script is occasionally contrived is annoying but with intelligence and a sense of context Forster and co have honed a good old-fashioned tearjerker and in this desensitised age that is no easy thing. As a meditation on Afghanistan The Kite Runner will always have to stand in line with Siddiq Barmak’s disturbing Osama (2003), Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s incendiary Kandahar and Samira Makhmalbaf’s At Five in the Afternoon (2003), but that is fine company to keep. (Paul Dale)
Selected release from Wed 26 Dec.