The Kite Runner

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Posted December 13, 2007 in Film

Until the release of this glossy adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestseller, The Kite Runner has been known as “that book everyone else seems to have read but me,” and “that movie that got those kids exiled from Afghanistan.” Now, it’s bloomed into “that film everybody seems to like but secretly makes me feel nauseous.” Not because of the shocking boy-gang-on-boy-rape-scene, but because that scene is actually devoid of impact. While Americans have been wringing their hands over how those close-minded Afghans don’t value art house indie flicks, imagine the uproar and ick-factor the book and film’s exact same audience would feel if the rapist and rapee weren’t two brown boys on the opposite side of the globe but blonde kids in Kansas. I imagine Oprah would withhold her endorsement. But because there’s just enough distance between us and them, and anyways, we’re used to the news telling us that people in countries like that are always violating each other, Hosseini’s over-done melodrama, directed by Marc Forster with the sweeping triumph of a MasterCard commercial, has been spun into a heart-warming, soul-affirming, blah blah blah that under the surface doesn’t so much open our eyes to Afghanistan as reinforce everything negative we’ve already suspected. The story is neatly divided into good Afghans and bad Afghans. The good ones know their place and want to move to America. The bad ones are devout Muslims who thrive on violence. This sordid tale of two generations of Afghan woe is rallying fiction as scripted by George W. Bush (only grammatical) or a V.C. Andrews novel with a topical varnish. And while it isn’t Hosseini’s fault that he just happened to write the only story that Western audience were open to hearing about his homeland, this empty, misguided tearjerker just underscores the fact that we’re only comfortable spinning the same old broken record. (Amy Nicholson)


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