The Kite Runner (PG-13)
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This movie came out in 2007, but I didn't see it until 2015. I had bought the DVD probably four years earlier, and, you know... I have lots of DVDs it takes me years before I get around to watching. I thought of watching this one a number of times, over the years, and then on the Tuesday of Banned Books Week 2015, I happened to do a quiz, What Are You Banned For?, and my result was the book on which this film is based (which I haven't read). So I thought that would be a good motivator for me to finally watch the movie, sometime during the week. And I did so on Friday.
It begins in San Francisco, in 2000. A man named Amir Qadiri and his wife, Soraya, are watching kids flying kites in the park. Then they go home, and find a couple boxes full of copies of Amir's new novel waiting for them. Then Amir gets a phone call from Rahim Khan, an old friend of his father's, who is currently living in Pakistan. He wants Amir to come visit him so he can tell him something important. The movie then flashes back to 1978, when Amir was growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan. His best friend was a boy named Hassan, the son of his father's servant, Ali. (Amir's father is always referred to as "Baba," which means "father.") I have no idea what Baba's job or... cultural position was, or anything. He just seemed to be rich, and liberal. Also he was somewhat disappointed in his son, for never standing up for himself when being harassed by older boys, though Hassan (who was smaller) always stuck up for Amir. Still, Baba definitely loved Amir, even if Amir thought his father hated him. Rahim tried to convince Amir that Baba loved him. And he also tried to convince Amir that the stories he wrote were good (which Hassan also told him).
Anyway... Amir and Hassan did lots of stuff together, like watching American movies, and kite fighting. (This is a sport I never heard of, but it was pretty amazing to watch.) Eventually there's a tournament that they compete in, and they win. However... after the tournament, when Hassan runs off to find the kite that Amir had defeated... he's stopped by the local bullies, led by a boy named Assef. Amir goes looking for Hassan, and sees the boys beat Hassan up, and then... Assef rapes Hassan. Rather than intervening, Amir hides, and then runs away. After that, it's clear that he can't bear the shame of his action, which causes him to stop being friends with Hassan, and ultimately tries to drive him (and Ali) away. In spite of this, Hassan never stops being loyal to Amir. Soon after that, the story skips forward a bit, to 1979, when the Russians invade Afghanistan. Amir and Baba flee the country, though they expect to come back after the Russians leave. Meanwhile, Baba laves Rahim to look after their house.
We then flash forward to 1988, in Fremont, California. Obviously, they never returned to Kabul. Amir graduates college, and Baba is working at a gas station. Before long, Baba introduces his son to a former Afghan general named Taheri, the father of Soraya. She and Amir immediately like each other, though General Taheri isn't impressed by Amir, particularly because he is an aspiring fiction writer. (Baba isn't happy about his son's choice of career, either, but he accepts it.) Some things happen that I don't want to reveal, but of course Amir and Soraya eventually marry. Then we return to that phone call in 2000, and Amir goes to Pakistan. At this point, the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan, so it's very dangerous there. But Rahim tells Amir some things... which I don't want to spoil. But what he learns convinces him he has to risk returning to Afghanistan, to find and rescue a boy named Sohrab. In this quest, Amir is accompanied by a driver named Farid.
And I don't want to reveal anything else about the plot. I'll just say... there were occasional moments I found amusing, and lots of things that were sad, or disturbing, or horrifying. There were also some touching moments, and ultimately there's a happy ending. But mostly, it's the sort of film that shows you how much suffering and evil there can be in the world... but also how much goodness and hope there can be. And... I feel like I should say more, but that's pretty much all I can think to say.