The Kite Runner
If you leave this film feeling even slightly uncomfortable, then Director Marc Forster has done his job. Based on a novel by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner is a story of the havoc of war, told from a personal and a societal perspective.
Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi), a young Afghanistan boy, lives in relative wealth in the city of Kabul. His father (Homayoun Ershadi), a widower since the death of his wife in childbirth, is an outspoken leader in the community whose beliefs often put his own safety at risk. Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada), one of the family's young servants, becomes a faithful and dedicated friend to Amir. Together, the two boys scour the city streets in search of adventure. But, Hassan's ethnic background makes him the target of abuse from a group of older teens who eventually rape the boy when he refuses to denounce his loyalty to Amir.
Overseeing the event from an undetected vantage point, Amir is left to deal with the guilt of abandoning his friend in the face of the thugs. It's a wound on his conscience that refuses to heal despite his crude attempts to erase his shame.
However before Amir is ready to face up to Hassan, Communists descend on the country and eventually the encroaching Russian armies send the young boy and his father fleeing from the city to preserve their lives. It is only years later, as an adult living in America, that Amir is finally given a chance to atone for his mistake.
Strong performances, especially from the child actors, show the resilience of youth despite horrific surroundings. Other characters in the film also display heroic attempts to protect the vulnerable and abandoned. Every day, an orphanage operator is faced with sickening decisions as he attempts to save as many children as possible from the Taliban who have replaced the Russians as the governing force in the nation.
Unfortunately, as the partially subtitled film's carnage and cruelty rise so does the content level. In addition to the violation of Hassan, there is discussion of other children who are sexually abused. After stopping a truck of fleeing citizens at the border, a soldier attempts to assault a young woman in front of her husband. Later, another woman, accused of adultery, is publicly stoned in a stadium full of spectators while her counterpart remains unscathed. Along the way, others are brutally beaten or shot as the region is decimated by conflict. With so many disturbing events, parents might want to preview this film before allowing their older children to see it.
Still, the conflict is one that refuses to be ignored. Beginning with individuals who act courageously in the face of danger, their deeds are a spot of hope for a country ravaged by atrocities.