'Kite Runner' Makes Big-Screen Debut The film adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's novel about friendship, betrayal, rivalry and redemption in Afghanistan was released in theaters this weekend. The film's release was delayed out of concern for the safety of Afghan child stars.
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'Kite Runner' Makes Big-Screen Debut

'Kite Runner' Makes Big-Screen Debut

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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The film adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's novel about friendship, betrayal, rivalry and redemption in Afghanistan was released in theaters this weekend. The film's release was delayed out of concern for the safety of Afghan child stars.

Guests:

Peter Bergen, senior fellow at the New America Foundation; author of The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader

'The Kite Runner'

Khalid Abdalla (left) stars as the adult Amir in The Kite Runner. Phil Bray/DreamWorks hide caption

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Phil Bray/DreamWorks

Khalid Abdalla (left) stars as the adult Amir in The Kite Runner.

Phil Bray/DreamWorks
  • Director: Marc Forster
  • Genre: Drama
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

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A childhood friendship is torn apart, then finds new resonance two decades later in this novel-based heart-tugger. The privileged Amir and a family servant named Hassan are inseparable pre-teen buddies in Afghanistan, until a kite-fighting tournament leads to a vicious assault and a personal betrayal. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to America, where they're living some 20 years later when a letter from Hassan brings Amir back to Kabul in a risky effort to set things right.

Marc (Finding Neverland) Forster's graceful direction can't finesse novelistic plot coincidences — including a villain's too-convenient reappearance late in the story — that register as unlikely on screen. The digitized kite-flying sequences are vivid, if faintly hokey. And Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, who plays the young Hassan, is a sharp little actor.

(And he, it's worth noting, had to be spirited out of Afghanistan along with two other youngsters over worries that a rape sequence would be viewed negatively enough by Afghan audiences that their lives might be in danger).

The film is undeniably affecting, but something less than the spellbinder fans of Khaled Hosseini's book may be expecting.