So here it is, Review number one, my opinion spilled out in electronic form on the off chance it might be read in the future and I be hailed as a king and bought back to life using technology that we couldn't even dream of yet. Yeah The Kite Runner, its good, I'd recommend it...
Will that do. No. Well then, first a little about the film.
Now living in America, Amir (Khalid Abdalla) receives a phone call from his native Afghanistan. This call triggers a reflection on his childhood and most importantly his relationship with his best friend Hassan. This call spurs him onto a journey of atonement and redemption.
This is all I'll say for the plot and I urge everyone else to skip the trailer and read as little as possible about the film. Too many websites and reviews have the third act as the plot outline, which kinda spoils any element of surprise in the first two thirds. I was lucky enough to go in cold to this film, knowing only that it was directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) and based on a highly praised novel.
The film itself is 'worthy.' Now 'worthy' films fall into two categories those that people like because they are well made and those that people like because they tackle hard subjects and go a bit slow. Thankfully The Kite Runner is firmly in the former camp. While it does deal with some issues, namely Middle Eastern Politics, that will have the chin stroking brigade (I confess I am an occasional member of this brigade) kept happy, the reason you should see this film is for the memorable characters and their relationships.
As the two children torn apart, not by war as the trailer suggests, but by a horrendous act and true cowardice, Zekeria Ebrahimi and Ahmed Khan Mahmidzada are exceptionally good. Without such good performances at the start the film wouldn't take off (I'm proud of that word play so its staying). But the heart of the film is Amirs father Baba (Homayoun Ershadi). Easily one of the the most noble yet flawed characters since The Lives of Others Stasi-Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler.
It is this two dimensionality present in the cast that makes The Kite Runner such good cinema. It is only in the last act which becomes disappointingly formulaic that you remember that it is an American film after all and so cliches and implausabilities do rear their heads. This doesn't mean you won't be moved by the end, I've never cried at a kite taking off before now, and doubt I will again. It just means that despite what has come before, as a whole, its not a bona fide classic.