The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

2007, PG-13, 122 min. Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Shaun Toub, Atossa Leoni, Said Tashimaoui, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Dec. 21, 2007

Adapting a bestselling novel like Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner for the screen is often a tricky proposition: Do the filmmakers slavishly adhere to the literary source to satisfy the expectations of a built-in audience familiar with the book, or do they aim to make a stand-alone movie that just happens to be based on a popular piece of fiction? In other words, it can be a matter of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The screen version of Hosseini’s phenomenally successful novel about friendship, betrayal, and redemption, set against the turmoil in Afghanistan during the last 30 years, is an example of how good intentions don’t necessarily make for a good movie. Screenwriter David Benioff and director Forster are faithful to the novel to a fault, retaining a level of narrative detail that bogs down the principal storyline about a haunted Afghan-American man who is blessed with the chance “to be good again” and rectify a wrong he committed years ago. The film’s early scenes establishing the boyhood bond between the privileged Amir and the servant’s son Hassan effectively set up the tragic turn of events that forever separates the two, both in the physical and the emotional sense. As the simple and loyal Hassan, young Mahmidzada is perfectly cast – his eyes are expressive beyond their years, and he projects the inherent goodness essential to the role. But as the film progresses, the narrative focus gets diluted and never really recovers, even when the grownup Amir returns to his native country, a ruined place he no longer recognizes. Some of the improbabilities in the third act of Hosseini’s book seem even more unlikely on the screen – the villain is a sadistic pedophile high in the ranks of the Taliban government – and the thematic essence of the film is equally marred by the heightened melodramatics that undermined the last third of the novel. Still, the kite-fighting sequences here are magnificent, staged and shot by Forster like aerial dogfights in which fluttering constructions of paper and string do battle in the sky. (Alberto Iglesias’ beautiful score adds much to these poetic skirmishes.) It’s during these scenes that The Kite Runner soars, only to be inevitably brought down to earth by the remainder of the movie.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Marc Forster Films
Christopher Robin
Back to the Hundred Acre Wood in this live-action sequel

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 10, 2018

All I See Is You
A blind woman who regains her sight starts to see things differently

Danielle White, Oct. 27, 2017

More by Steve Davis
Sin
Portrait of the original Renaissance man lets obsession obscure the vision

Feb. 19, 2021

The World to Come
Frontier romance speaks of a love that cannot speak the name it does not yet have

Feb. 12, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Kite Runner, Marc Forster, Khalid Abdalla, Homayoun Ershadi, Shaun Toub, Atossa Leoni, Said Tashimaoui, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle