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Kite Runner, The


Stars: Homayoun Ershadi, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, Khalid Abdalla, Shaun Toub, Atossa Leoni, Said Taghmaoui

Director: Marc Forster

Based on a best-selling novel by Khaled Hossaini, this is probably the first mainstream film to bring the plight and suffering of the Afghan nation before western eyes (don't think we'll count Rambo III).

In the 1970s, Amir (Ebrahimi), the son of a rich merchant, is desperate to win the local kite-flying tournament, with the help of his loyal friend Hassan (Mahmidzada), the son of his father's servant. But when Hassan is set on and raped by local bullies from whom he had previously protected Amir with his slingshot, the cowardly Amir hides and does nothing to help.

Now desperate to rid himself of Hassan, Amir conceals his watch under Hassan's bed and accuses him of its theft. To protect Amir from humiliation, Hassan admits to the theft. He and his father leave, over the vehement protests of Amir's father (Ershadi), the import of which Amir only realises years later when living as a successful author in California.

Driven by a phone call from his now-dead father's former best friend, Amir embarks on a hazardous journey to Pakistan to seek at least partial redemption.

A bit long, but quite moving, this well-constructed story will hold even the attention of those who hate subtitles. Performances are more than competent throughout the cast, with the two young boys especially good. Those in search of an absorbing window on to a little-seen world should give it a try.

Alan Frank

USA/China/Afghanistan 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount (Paramount Classics/DreamWorks). Colour by deluxe.
129 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Dec 2007