Khaled Hosseini's books - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns - deal with big emotions in simplistic ways (See my review of the latter right here). So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the film adaptation of the The Kite Runner is so blatantly designed to bring out the Kleenex.
But I don't really like the feeling of being so expertly manipulated by narrative tricks. Coincidence is a big one in The Kite Runner. Of course the villain shows up in the climatic moment, as if there exists only 20 people in all of Afghanistan.
And the cliches are totally painful. If they're flying kites at the beginning, do you think someone'll be flying kites at the end? Hmmm
My favourite cliche? The two young best friends carving their name for themselves - the Sultans of Kabul - into the tree on their favourite play spot. "Gee," I thought to myself, as the knife cut into the wood, I wonder of we'll see that tree again some time later in the story." As Amir climbs the hill making his way to the designated spot when he returns to Kabul as an adult, I was barely able to resist my temptation to shout out at the screen, "Resist, make the hill a wasteland with nothing left on it". But no-o-o-o, There's Amir, the trunk of the tree still standing, fondling the indentations in the wood.
I do appreciate Hosseini's deep understanding of sexual exploitation and what motivates it. A Thousand Splendid Suns does take on the appalling conditions of women under the Taliban with a ton of skill. But then he should know (spoiler alert, sort of) that a young boy who's been sexually assaulted every morning for months would not necessarily be docile and cooperative when another stranger takes him away. I didn't believe that part of the story for a second.
And why, when Amir is being roughed up by the bad guy, in the bad guy's home, which is protected by heavily armed Taliban thugs, would the bad guy turn up the music so that nobody can hear the beatings? The big bad Taliban thugs would have no problem with the fact that a beardless Muslim-American was getting the shit kicked out of him. Of course the musical din does make it possible for the good guys to get away. And how anybody can walk after having his ribs kicked in repeatedly, let alone climb over the wall protecting the estate, is, well..puh-lease.
Suddenly, The Kite Runner turns into Rambo. Ridiculous.
Oh, by the way, I cried anyway. Dammit.