Khaled Hosseini’s engaging best-seller cries out for a film treatment on an epic scale. But with his uneven, awards-baiting adaptation, Marc Forster seems a tourist both culturally and dramatically. The sledgehammer sentimentality of his Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland is very much in evidence—and Hosseini’s story, which relies on at least one fatuous contrivance, caters to some of the director’s worst instincts.
In any case, the corrosive guilt that stems from an early episode in the novel has been muted. Beginning in ’70s Afghanistan, the film follows Amir (Ebrahimi, and later a tentative Abdalla) and his servant’s son Hassan (Mahmidzada), whose friendship is poisoned by an incident that, while carefully presented, may have risked endangering the young actors in their native Afghanistan. Despite the controversy, the film itself seems unlikely to get many viewers’ blood boiling, failing to establish the right pace for a narrative that spans decades. (The respectful screenplay is by 25th Hour’s David Benioff.) The most refreshing thing about The Kite Runner may be the decision to film it with a mostly unknown, multilingual cast; it’s good to see Homayoun Ershadi again after his role in Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry—even if there was more tension in that film, in which he rarely left his Land Rover.
Cast and crew
Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada
Ali Danish Bakhtyari
Abdul Salam Yusoufzai