I saw the film of The Kite Runner recently. It was good…
Warning: Spoilers ahead
The performances were great, with the two little boys playing Amir and Hassan having a nice chemistry that made their friendship convincing. British actor Khalid Abdalla (also seen as a hijacker in United 93) was sympathetic as the adult Amir, but, in the move from page to screen, the character seems to have become much more passive. It’s a lot to do with the fact that the dénouement of the story is awkwardly truncated for the film version. The film has Amir deciding to adopt Hassan’s orphaned son, Sohrab, pretty quickly, and it seems like the perfect solution to the inability of Amir and his wife, Soraya (Atossa Leoni) to have children, as well as a way to atone for his behaviour towards Hassan all those years ago. Two birds, one adoption.
It’s the kind of filmic neatness forced by the constraints of time, both in production and in keeping bums on seats. The book has a more dark and complex sequence of events, involving the traumatised Sohrab attempting suicide, Amir’s recovery from his run-in with the Taliban and Sohrab’s immense difficulties with fitting into American life. The picture that the novel paints seems more true to life in its description of the problems of getting into and out of Kabul, its portrayal of Amir’s inner life and its refusal to give us a nice, all-ends-tied-up, happy-happy ending. It’s optimistic, but never lets us forget that these characters – Sohrab most of all – have been traumatised badly by the events. Perhaps, though, the engaging film will get some viewers going over to the book. Still, it’s definitely worth watching.
I managed to read A Thousand Splendid Suns before The Kite Runner, being contrary and all that. I felt that the second book was better, because that whole thing of first-novel-as-autobiog (Amir shares a lot of background with the author) has been conscientiously eschewed. Instead, the main characters are women, and the subject is largely their oppression. The book is absoluely heartbreaking.