Kite Runner: The Movie

I went to a preview of the movie based on Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" this weekend (thanks for the tickets, Sandy). This from Amazon, about the book, if you need reminding:

The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule.

The excellent Rory Stewart ("The Places In Between" and "The Prince of the Marshes") was there to introduce the film. He gave an affecting talk abut his experiences in Afghanistan, and appealed in a gentlemanly way for support for his own charity, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation (the site is worth a look for the photography alone), and for the Aschiana Foundation.

The film's theatrical distribution has been delayed over fears for the safety of child actors involved in the film's pivotal (and discreetly filmed) rape scene. The movie is a worthy endeavour, and I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it. I thought it was disappointing--though bear in mind that I was one of apparently very few people who did not think much of the book, either. (Towards the end, I tossed it across the room in exasperation.) I felt that book and movie both had the same two lethal defects: a psychologically vacant central character, difficult to like or believe in; and an almost comically overburdened plot, which, especially at the end, piles coincidence on message-laden coincidence. The movie, though, is admirably non-Hollywood in its casting of relative unknowns and in its low-key, entirely believable, depiction of pre- and post-Taliban Kabul. Fans of the book ought to enjoy it.