If kites can help you pick-up best friends, what about picking up chicks?
A privileged youth named Amir and the son of his father’s servant named Hassan, both find a their friendship blossoming because of their love of flying kites. However, their friendship is tested when one of the kid’s finds himself in a rough situation, and the other decides to not stand up for him. Their friendship and lives, are changed forever after this.
Here’s a movie that totally took me by surprise, and I have no damn clue as to why. I usually like stories about childhood friends, growing up, growing apart, and following their lives whether they’re together or not. It’s just always appealed to me and there’s nothing more sweeter than watching a young friendship shine, right in front of your own very eyes. However, there were also my reservations with this movie and why I was not expecting much going in.
First of all, the novel this is based off of is apparently amazing. People love it, scholars love it, my Mom-Mom loves it, and it was even a Best-Seller so that if that goes to show you anything, it has a lot of promise to live up to. Promise, that it probably doesn’t come even close to living up to. Secondly, I remember hearing how controversial this flick was for some of the child actors in this movie, how they had to deal with some sexual-material, and how they couldn’t even leave their houses sometimes because they were getting threats for being in a movie like this. I don’t know what pissed everybody off so much, because there isn’t much here that’s worth getting all blue over, but I guess it’s just opposite worlds, so maybe I don’t understand. Basically, I wasn’t looking forward to a movie that was based off a Best-Seller, as well as I wasn’t looking forward to a movie where kids had to go through sexual thangs, but most of all, perhaps the cherry on top was that I wasn’t looking forward to watching a movie directed by Marc Forster, who is usually hit-or-miss for me.
Thankfully, though, this movie worked for me and showed me why it’s so damn special to walk into a movie like this and just get my ass surprised. I think what took me off-guard the most about this movie is how Forster took this material, and instead of making it a dark, depressing meditation on what was happening in the Afghanis during this time, he makes it a bittersweet look at the value of friendship and keeping your morals intact, no matter what. Forster does get dark and a bit too political with this material at times, but the guy always keeps it grounded on these two kids, they’re friendship, what they have together, and what they value the most: kite-flying.
There isn’t as much kite-flying in this movie, but when they do show it, it makes you feel more for the activity as well as the story itself. Seeing these two kids as they find peace and happiness with one another, really gave me a warm feeling in my heart, but then it all changes right before you can start dropping the tears. In a single-instance, the movie gets cold, dark, serious, and very disturbing, but it never pushes you away from the harsh-reality that is life. Once the Commies come and invade Afghanistan, things get a little shaky for our characters, and they have to leave to the States.
Once they do end up in the States, the story still stays interesting as we see one of our characters actually adjust to the non-luxurious life of living in America as an immigrant from Afghanistan. This was an interesting look at what life will bring you, how you can get past it, and ultimately, how you can make yourself happy. It may seem a bit cheesy to say and even in the movie as well, but you always feel like what it is you’re watching, is a genuine story, told from the heart and told from the point-of-view of the person who really knew what he was talking about. Even if Marc Forster never grew up in Pakistan, at least he gave us a look at what it was like for most of those people, especially those kids and he never shies away from the facts of life, we always try to slide by.
Good for you, Marc. But still, you should have stayed away from James Bond.
Where the film takes a slight dip in it’s narrative-force, is when it becomes more of a thriller, than an actual, dramatic story on being human and what sort of costs we have to take in life. Actually, that last aspect of life is presented in the second-half of this movie, but it’s performed in such a way that made me feel like I was watching a whole, entirely different movie out of nowhere. When you begin, you have this story of friendship that takes it’s time, builds up relations, and drama, but then you get to the middle of the movie, and then things begin to get all Jason Bourne-y on our asses. Hey, I’m down for a nice bit of tension to allow me to feel more with this story, but it came off like a call for arms where Forster needed to spice up the story. Then again, they probably had this aspect of the story in the book, so if Forster’s just following what he sees, then once again, good for him, but at the same time: bad for me.
After this change, the film loses it’s steam of being important and teaching us a lesson about life. I don’t know what the hell happened to this movie, but I think they got more about the politics of Afghan, rather than focusing in on the actual friendship and human emotions that were running so damn rampant underneath this story in the first place. I’m not terribly mad at this movie for doing so, because I actually still liked it and think that giving it a political-importance may heighten it’s emotion; I just wish they kept things consistent with tone, narrative, and ideas it was trying to spout-out to Middle-Class America. I will admit though, life did feel pretty comfortable for me after seeing this movie. Being all snuggled up in my big, cozy, King-sized bed. Holla.
Anyway, away from me being a dick and back to the movie. Everybody in this cast does a great job, but the one I was really blown-away by was Homayoun Ershadi as Amir’s father, Baba. I’ve never seen this guy in anything before and I automatically assumed that from the first shot of him in his tower, full of alcohol, couches, with lavish and beautiful clothes, that he was going to be one of those power-hungry, deuchebag dads that cared more about his reputation than his own relationship with his kid. Some of that was true, but once the story gets moving and we start to see more about this guy continue to pop out, then we realize that he’s just an old man, who loves his son, for all that he is and wants nothing but the best. He finds it hard to be the man he used to be, due to the fact that he lives in America, where nobody gives a shite about him, but he still keeps that royalty and honor to his name. It’s more endearing to see, rather than annoying since a character like this could have easily gone either way.
If there was a problem I had with any of these people in the movie, it was more or less that the main character himself was just such a tool. The character I’m talking about is Amir, and he seems like one of these kids who’s spoiled to the gills, can’t stand-up for himself, and just lives and breaths by his daddy’s wealth. He’s like all of the “Richie Riches” out there, except, this kid’s more of a puss. Throughout the whole movie, he never seems to make a strong case for himself, nor does he ever seem to be the type of guy you’d believe in, especially when shit starts to go South for this guy very late in the game. The two people that played him were good and tried their best, but ultimately, they couldn’t do much to make this character seem like anything more than just a sad excuse for a dude that has a bit too much food on his plate, and should at least share the resources. Probably not a saying anywhere in the world, but you get what I mean. The dude’s a bit of a bitch and I just wanted to freakin’ slap him at some points.
Consensus: The Kite Runner starts off promising with a sweet, but nowhere near-gentle look at a young friendship, that’s eventually tested by boundaries and emotional problems, which is where and when the movie began to fall-apart. However, it still stays compelling and that’s what makes this movie worth the watch, even for the toughest and manliest-viewer out there in the world.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!