The Kite Runner 

Before 9/11, most Americans probably didn't have any idea what Afghanistan was like. The Kite Runner is here to help them by providing both a recent history lesson and a brilliantly sad story in one shot.

Amir and Hassan are best pals. Hassan's family acts as servants to Amir's family, but the living and working arrangements never encroach on their friendship—until one day. After winning Kabul's kite-flying tournament, Amir spies Hassan being raped and beaten by bullies. Unable to cope with what he's seen, and the fact that he did not react, Amir shuns his friend, leading to a splitting of the two families. Once grown, an old family friend summons Amir from America back to his childhood home with some dire news.

This film has one hell of a script. Many of the characters range from likeable to easily hated and back again, all within a two-hour span. There's failure, redemption, denial and the whole gamut of human emotion.

Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) manages to splice together very dark and very sweet moments and makes his half-English, half-Arabic dialogue flow very well. The accuracy of the world around the characters, namely the Soviet invasion, the behaviors of the Taliban and the Middle Eastern culture, is difficult to gauge for an outsider, but all aspects certainly feel very believable.

With as much psychology and history as it offers, you can get as much or as little out of this film as you like. Either way, it's a powerful tale.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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