May 21, 2006

Belated Review: Everything Is Illuminated

From the better-late-than-never files, I got around to watching the Liev Schreiber adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" last night. I'd say it's a faithful re-telling of the book (at least in part. The film doesn't even attempt to delve into the whimsical, magical-realist history of Trachimbrod, which was probably a wise decision because the whole thing would have gotten too watered down and convoluted.)

I didn't hear rave reviews when the film came out last year, and if you weren't already familiar with the book, you may not have been wowed. But having loved the novel, I thought the film perfectly captured Safran Foer's oyssey to discover his Ukrainian roots, with assistance from English-mangling tour-guide Alex, Alex's so-called blind grandfather and his mangy "seeing eye bitch," Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. Elijah "creepy eyes" Wood proved a little distracting in the film (and not quite what I had imagined from the book), but the rest of the characters were a delight. The laugh-out-loud moments of the first half of the film are nicely offset by the sobering "illumination" towards the end, (although the revelation wasn't made completely clear -- one of my few gripes with the film.) Regardless, the whole thing is quirky, entertaining and greatly exceeded my expectations. Add it to your Netflix queue (and, of course, read the book first if you haven't). -- Amy

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