THE KITE RUNNER (DreamWorks, 2007) D: Marc Forster, w/ Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
If only it didn’t sag in the middle. The story is brilliant, the performances strong and the visuals simple and graceful. A little more cutting and this could’ve been a classic.
Act one, an extensive flashback, follows the friendship of two boys in 1978 Kabul and its eventual destruction through the cowardice and shame of one. Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada as young Amir and Hassan offer complete, natural performances that make me wish the story had run its course with them. But no. In act three, Amir, now an adult residing in America, returns to Taliban-controlled Kabul to rescue Hassan’s son and at last expiate his guilt.
In the middle, it’s Amir in America. He graduates from college, gets married. His father dies. Ho-hum. It’s seriously undramatic, but the story needs that passage of time and, more importantly, it’s in the novel.
Director Marc Forster and scenarist David Benioff respect the novel, so much so that novelist Khaled Hosseini shares their commentary. They spend much time discussing his bestseller and the problems of trimming it down to playable length. Interesting stuff, though a bit narrow-focused.
EXTRAS Director, novelist and screenwriter commentary, novel-into-film doc, making-of doc. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.