Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Everything is Illuminated

"Everything is Illuminated" (Liev Schreiber, 2005) Schreiber goes behind the camera as author (adapting the Jonathan Safron Foer novel) and auteur for this quirky little independent film of the clash of cultures when an odd little Jewish collector (Elijah Wood, as Clark Kent as they come) decides to take a tour of his grandparents' home village in Russia to connect the dots and learn their story. Fortunately, there's a tourist-car company in the Ukraine that specializes in Jews, and so young Jonathan is met at the airport by the tour-group-that-skipped-a-generation the ancient grandfather-driver who knows the route (Boris Leskin) and the grandson-hipster Alex (Eugene Hutz, brilliant) and the killer, demented bitch of a family dog, Sammy Davis, jnr., jnr. Indie hilarity ensues when Jon turns out to be a collector of phobia's and and habits that the Ukranian's just can't fathom--he's a vegetarian, allergic (and scared of) demented bitch-dogs, a collector of everything and a bit of a germ-phobe. The Ukranian's don't have time for it.

Schreiber doesn't have much of an eye the first time out, careening from a "get-the-shot-any-way-you-can" style, to a sterile symmetry. This applies to the story as well as trip-funkiness is off-set by a too-pat resolution. Schreiber (or the releasing company) chose to cut out one aspect of Jonathon's life--an imaginative day-dreaming life that transports him to absurdist, nearly Pythonesque, fantasy with imbedded icon skewerings. They're a bit heavy-handed and distract from the main thrust of the story, but can still be accessed in the Special features of the DVD.

1 comment:

Marlene Detierro said...

It's also a generous performance, because Wood literally takes a backseat to Hutz's movie-stealing turn as the language-mangling Alex, whose English is 'not so premium'.

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