Monday, August 14, 2006

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated is Liev Schreibers directorial debut surrounding Jonathan Safran Foer, an abnormal young Jewish American who collects artifacts from his family which leads him to Ukraine in search of the woman who appears in a photograph with his grandfather and helped him escape from the Nazis when they decimated their village.

When Jonathan, played by a freaky looking Elijah Woods, arrives in Ukraine he is met by a quirky family-run tour guide involving Alex and his grandfather Safran who claims he is blind but seems to get around just fine especially with the help of his insane dog Sammy Davis Jr. Alex, who occasionally narrates the plot, has an unhealthy passion for American pop culture and wears off-kilter bling clothing and broken English which often involves hilarious but diplomatic translations between Jonathan and his cranky grandfather.

At first it seems that Jonathan is in the hands of the tour guides from hell and one can only sympthaise with him although the characters bond during their journey and their stories intertwine to a dramatic and heartfelt conclusion which is an unexpected series of twists and pulls of the heart-strings surrounding the Nazi destruction of Jonathons village during World War II.

Everything Is Illuminated is nothing like I expected and there were rich rewards to be found within the facade of a comedy adventure drama. Incidentally Schreibers parents are of German heritage, his mother German-Jewish and himself a practicing Jew was perhaps one of the key factors behind his decision to turn Jonathan Safran Foer's novel into his first movie as a director.
Jonathan Safran Foer himself travelled to Ukraine in 1999 to research his grandfathers life which turned into his debut novel so the book and indeed movie itself is semi-autobiographical for the author.

Everything is Illuminated is an outstanding film and I would give it 4 sunflowers out of 5.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Lou said...

I'd definately recommend this film. It starts off as a quirky, funny road movie, but takes a completely unexpected turn and concludes as a powerful and moving drama.

8:26 pm  
Blogger Skry said...

That's so weird and co-incidental! Jenny and I watched The Motorcycle Diaries over the weekend, which itself took a turn from the expected "This is a political film re:Che Guevara" immediately, becoming a funny and interesting road trip movie!

Wouldn't say that it turned into a powerful and moving drama, although that's what I was expecting to I was happy to watch a quirky comedy late on a Sunday night rather than a heavy political drama.

9:59 pm  

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