The Kite Runner is unique: It’s one of those rare movies that can bring people together because it’s as much of a story about humanity as it is about a Muslim boy’s coming-of-age in Afghanistan and later, America.
Just like the novel it’s based on, the film is definitely worth seeing at least once, if not many times. The clear, simple storyline, easily understood characters and gripping emotional impact affect every viewer, whether or not anyone actually picked up Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel.
The movie starts out with the middle-aged protagonist, Amir (Khalid Abdalla), answering a phone call from an old and esteemed friend, Rahim Khan (Shaun Toub). This phone call draws Amir into a lengthy flashback of his childhood.
Amir (now played by newcomer Zekeria Ebrahimi) is an affluent preteen living with father, Baba (Homayoun Ershadi), who neither loves, understands, nor particularly likes his only son. Amir’s best friend, Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), is actually Amir’s servant, as Hassan is the son of Baba’s domestic servant.
Amir’s and Hassan’s friendship becomes strained during the highly anticipated annual kite tournament, one of the most enjoyed Afghan traditions.
After he volunteers to retrieve Amir’s kite, Hassan is pursued by the local bully, Assef, and his cronies. Amir watches Hassan get cornered in an alleyway refusing to give up the kite. While his best friend stands up for him bravely, Amir hides instead of coming to Hassan’s aid. This is the event that ruins Amir and Hassan’s friendship and sparks the rest of the storyline.
Amir’s past still plagues his thoughts. During the phone call, Rahim Khan offers him “a way to be good again,” and Amir ultimately takes him up on it and embarks on a harrowing journey to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The acting in this movie is impressive, especially considering that half the cast consists of new or amateur actors. The boys who played Amir and Hassan did very well in their parts; Toub is perfect for the role of Rahim.
Ershadi gave the most subtle and yet most emotionally intriguing performance in the movie. It has to be believable that Baba does not love Amir as the person he is, because the driving force behind every one of Amir’s actions is his desire to earn his father’s love.
Another excellent aspect of the movie is that many direct quotes, as well as exact descriptions of characters, houses, clothing and even accessories are lifted from the book. Indeed, The Kite Runner remains very steadfast to the novel, unlike other movies based on novels that only scrape the bare minimum.
Like any other movie based on a novel, however, certain things had to be cut out, and so some things in the book are left unexplained in the movie.
Nevertheless, The Kite Runner is overall a well-done, emotionally involving movie that shows not only the awful state of modern-day Afghanistan compared to its past, but also how a fragile and complicated family full of secrets and tragedy eventually comes to a peaceful resolution.