The Kite Runner (2007)

(Netflix Streaming, October 2017) Dramas like The Kite Runner remind me of unflavoured health food: it’s good for you, no one looks strangely if you say you’re eating it, but it feels completely joyless. Respectable but blandly ordinary, this drama set in Soviet-then-Taliban-occupied Afghanistan sees an Americanized refugee going back home to re-immerse himself in childhood memories and rescue a friend once betrayed. It’s as high-drama as you’d expect from a guilt-fuelled movie featuring kids and while it does work without being unbearably manipulative, The Kite Runner still leaves viewers with the sentiment of having seen something unnecessary. Adapted by director Marc Foster (who’s done much better and much worse) from a script by David Benioff from a best-selling novel from Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner checks off most of the boxes of middlebrow popular drama. Ethnic flavour? Yes. Universally applicable themes of guilt and redemption? Sure. Likable actors, faraway setting, adequate directing? Yes, yes, yes. And yet the end product feels manufactured, as safe as its kind of story can be. I expect that everyone’s mileage will vary on this one.

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