Monday, January 7, 2008

For you, a thousand times over.

After work today, I was so tired, that I knew if I went straight home, I'd fall asleep, and be even more screwed on my schedule. Luckily, my film buff friend (who will one day be a famous director), let's call him Alex, called me up and asked me if I'd like to catch a movie. So we went to go see The Kite Runner, one of the few books he's actually read.

I'm so tired right now that I thought about writing this tomorrow. But it's going to be busy tomorrow at work, and I want to write about this while it's still fresh in my mind.

The Kite Runner, as a book, is one of my favorite books ever. It was a heartwrenching experience for me.

So of course, I had high expectations of the movie. I hoped, fervently, that it would do the book justice.

And, yes, in many ways, it does.

There's no gimmicks here. It's a straightforward movie that sticks closely to the book. It doesn't do any artsy reinterpretation of the material. It tells the story cinematically. It's gratifying for someone who's read the book and wants to see it on screen, ie: me.

Side note: I'm a lazy reader. When I write, I spend a lot of time making phrases beautiful, paying attention to detail, being descriptive. When I read, my mind is impatient, and I read for plot. Descriptions get a skim from me at best, at least the first time around. Therefore, images mostly flash through my head in the murky way of dreams, surroundings, especially. Setting and scenery tend not to cement in my mind with a firmness -- instead, they're vague like they were brushed on like a Monet watercolor, or like the flash and fade of a hallucination.

Because of this, I never clearly visualized Afghanistan or even the process of kite flying itself. Sure, I got the general gist, but the movie fleshed out the specifics for me. The movie made it clear to me what dust Afghanistan looked like, the tree where they sat. All those things, it made clear for me, which I liked. And the scene that showed the kite flying was rendered wonderfully, bringing to life this cultural pasttime that is so intriguing and exciting. This was something I really enjoyed about the film.

Okay, I liked the performances. I liked the father a lot. I felt the older Amir was a little passive at times, but then so was his character, though at times I wasn't sure if I felt that the actor was doing a strong job of his role. It wasn't bad, he did portray Amir close to what I'd expect him to be like, but sometimes I wanted him to be more sure in his insecurity, you know what I mean?

But my favorite, by far, was the young boy who played Hassan. Oh, how I ached for him. He was cast so perfectly, in my eyes. Not a goodlooking kid, and yet so endearing with his chubby cheeks. A raw, tough vulnerability. His crooked smile. The way he put his arms around Amir. Oh, he broke my heart with his performance, I wanted to sweep him up and take him home.

And considering I cried through the entire book (this book is in fact, the one book that I had to take a breather from because my heart hurt), I expected a tearjerker. And yeah, I cried, especially when old Amir is reading that letter from Hassan years later. So sad. But of course, the book is ten times better.

Also, I have to say that I really am glad they did the book partly in foreign language (call me ignorant, I'm not sure what the language is called.), because it's something we rarely get to hear in media. And I'm glad to have a mainstream movie about Afghanistans -- all things consider, we Americans know so little, and everything we know is Taliban related, negative, violent. This movie portrayed the human, normal, beautiful -- and I think it's important to have that out there. To remind us that like everywhere else in the world, the violent and cruel are exceptions to the rule.

All in all? The movie does the book justice. There's nothing new or groundbreaking about it conceptually, but it's still tells a beautiful story of friendship. Aside from a couple of plot points that no one would really miss, it's faithful and streamlined. As a reader of the book, of course, I can't tell if it feels empty at all, if it relies too much on knowledge of the book and if it was lacking any substance. But I really felt this movie banked on most of the audience being familiar with the book, so fine. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, even if it could never be as good as the book, I think it was well done.

And seriously. Little Hassan. I loved him.

2 drops:

moonrat said...

I really, really really really want to see it. Thanks for reminding me how much.

Just because I'm a nerd, and had to go look all these things up when I read the book, the language they all speak is Farsi, but the Taliban language is Pashto. So the movie was probably in Farsi.

Ello said...

I loved loved loved Kite Runner!!! And thank you so much for doing this write up because I was really hesitating about seeing the movie. You know how it is when you love the book so much. But what convinced me is that I too am a bit of a lazy reader (never thought of it that way!!) and I am a big skimmer because I'm so anxious to know what happens. So the movie will probably work the same for me. Now you have totally made me excited to see it!!

And it's good to have you back!!!

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