the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Everything is Illuminated

I watched Everything is Illuminated again this holiday weekend. I saw it at the Telluride Film Festival last September but was so tired at the time of the viewing that it deserved another look. I knew I’d liked it, I just wasn’t sure how much of it I remembered.

What a tender, beautiful, bittersweet, transcendent film. It doesn’t reveal it’s writhing agony until the final acts. What begins in quirks and idiosyncrasy moves into a dark place where profound sadness and profound closure co-exist side by side. It is a film of pain that resurfaces and even though it is washed in redemption, still demands a bloody sacrifice.

The purpose of the film--a man’s search of his family’s roots--turns out to be a Hitchcockian MacGuffin of sorts; the spark but not the fire that lights the engine of the film’s soul. That comes in the most unexpected of places. Leiv Schreiber, in his directorial debut, does a deft and invisible job of shifting the material from broad satire and silliness in the film’s opening salvos to pathos and solemnity in the closing notes.

I am proud of Elijah Wood. His acting choices since The Lord of the Rings have been incredibly brave (Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Sin City). This film is no exception.

I was right about my hunch. A film equal parts farce and tragedy, Everything is Illuminated was well worth a repeat viewing.


Anonymous nate said...

John-fen, I am pleasing very much to the women, with the wearing of my American clothes.

12:21 PM  

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