This film is a faithful adaptation of the best-selling novel about an Afghan boy who emigrates to the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
It gives a poignant glimpse into Muslim and even Afghan culture. One highlight is the sport of kite fighting where competitors glue chips or razors to their kites and try to cut the strings of other kite fliers.
Director Marc Forster doesn't, however, telegraph this sport properly, or at least to too much dramatic effect. He was able though, to coax convincing enough performances from his child actors, who participate in the kite fighting.
Forster was also able to capture some great images in western China, which double for Afghanistan. The flying kites are just colored quadrangles in overexposed, sun-filled skies, flapping about fast and wildly, soaring as if they had minds of their own, and then sinking slowly to the ground.
In both novels written by Khaled Hosseini, there is always a sense of the profound appreciation and love his characters as adults have for their homeland of Afghanistan through their memories as children. This film doesn't quite translate that.
It's a piece of the puzzle that's missing that you long for, but the performances of actor Khalid Abdulla who stars as Amir makes up for it. Abdulla is very heart touching. Abdulla plays the adult version of that immigrant Afghan boy who now has to return to his homeland to settle unresolved issues he's harbored since childhood.
It is then that we see the contrast against the entire splendor that Afghanistan has been painted. We see the strictness, the harshness, and even the brutality of the Taliban.
The DVD's special features include a short featurette, which illuminates some autobiographical elements in Hosseini's book and this film.
Three Stars out of Five
Rated PG-13 for a child rape scene
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 7 mins.