Director: Marc Forster
Writers: David Benioff, Khaled Hosseini (novel)
Cinematographer: Roberto Schaefer
Starring: Khalid Abdalla, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan
Mahmidzada, Homayon Ershadi, Shaun Toub
Studio/Running Time: Paramount Vantage, 122 mins.
“Oh, tie me to the end of a kite
So I can go on, I can go on with my life
Every time the wind blows stronger,
I will feel my spirit rise
I just want to go away from here.”
-Rosie Thomas “Kite Song”
The words “beautiful” and “uplifting” may seem inappropriate in describing a film steeped in tragedy. After all, betrayal, corruption, terrorism, rape and public execution are a far cry from Hallmark sentimentality. But as a whole, Marc Forster’s moving adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner is both a beautiful story of friendship and an uplifting journey of man’s humanity.
As children growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan, Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) are inseparable in spite of their social status; Hassan and his father are live-in servants to Amir and his well-to-do father. Together, the two boys compete in kite wars, a favorite pastime of the local citizenry. But through a series of bad decisions, Amir betrays his friend and the servants are forced to leave. Twenty years later, while living in America, Amir (Khalid Abdalla) is persuaded to return to his homeland, now under control of the repressive Taliban. His decision to right past wrongs, despite some life-threatening consequences, becomes an existence-defining moment.
Forster excels at taking seemingly diverse elements, throwing them in a pot and watching what happens. The results are unpredictable and always riveting, as witnessed in Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction. And he has a special affinity for eliciting strong performances from child actors. Ebrahimi and Mahmidzada are simply wonderful. Their characters’ unique friendship kicks off The Kite Runner at a pace that begs for more until it reaches a most satisfying conclusion.
The world at large may at times seem daunting but it’s films like this that brings the impermanence of our planet down to a level that everyone can relate to.