Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Kite Runner (2007, Marc Forster)

The more Forster films I see, the more I think that the best he can manage anymore is workmanlike proficiency. None of his movies is poorly made, but they're just kind of bland and uninspired. It's for this reason that when he takes on respectable subject matter, the results are invariably labeled "Oscar-bait"- they're so middle-of-the-road that if the material does it for you, you're bound to respond favorably to the movie. Problem is, I'm not sure he's the right filmmaker for The Kite Runner. It may have seemed so at the time, as it's based on a respected bestseller, but this really needed a director willing to really dig into the more emotional aspects of the story. After all, we're dealing with lifelong guilt and shame born from fear of emasculation, both real and imagined. Sure, the Forster version might elicit approval from critics who respect his restraint and treat melodrama as a four-letter word, but seeing the tepid result makes me wonder how much better a Sergio Leone version would have been (were he alive, that is). The Kite Runner is prosaic through and through, and so when the big narrative reveals come in the story, nothing registers. For example, the scene where the adult Amir finds out the truth about his childhood friend Hassan falls flat because Forster is afraid to really embrace the melodramatic nature of the moment. In this way, Khalid Abdulla is the ideal lead actor for Forster's telling of the story- his performance is perfectly serviceable, but reveals almost nothing about the character. And let's face it, we're not talking about the hero of a Jean-Pierre Melville protagonist here- we're supposed to feel the weight of this guy's emotional struggles, and we never do. Too bad... this could've been pretty darn good. Rating: 4 out of 10.


James said...

This is one of those films that I rolled my eyes at because the hype and acclaim dictates that I'll have to watch it.

Paul C. said...

I hereby release you from your imagined obligation to watch The Kite Runner. This goes for everyone who thinks they need to see this even though they'd rather not. There are too many good movies still to see to waste a night of Muriels cramming on this.