Never heard of it, no real idea what to expect. Though based purely on the name, I am expecting something somewhat slower paced and contemplative. Either a glacial drama, or something slow and weird.
As luck would have it, both my guesses were correct. Everything Is Illuminated is a slow, weird drama.
Not that this is a bad thing in any way, of course. As soon as I realized that the primary goal of the movie was to uncover a story of the past, a story related The Holocaust – well, there are few happy endings in those stories, and I starting preparing myself for it. But the better part of the movie was spent in the getting there, touring the Ukrainian countryside in search of a town that is no longer on the map. And the getting there was quite good, lighthearted fun.
The story is about a distinctly peculiar American Jewish boy named Jonathan, a nerd with an obsession about his family and a collection to match it, and his goal to find the town where his grandfather was from. Which would have been a very dull movie if not for Alex, a colourful local with a almost-but-not-quite good grasp of english, and his cranky grandfather. A lot of good humor is made at the expense of ‘JonFen’ and his peculiar American ideas (and his other peculiarities, which are very much his own), and as a result the major part of the movie is quite a mood booster.
Which is good, because Act 3 wrecked me. It is, after all, a Holocaust story.
- Elijah Wood sells the hell out of his role as an awkwardly formal nerd.
- Excellent soundtrack consisting entirely of (what I assume to be) Ukrainian music
- Alex’s english. It is very proximal to correct, yes?
- Overall charming presentation
- Jonathan’s obvious culture shock upon returning to America
- This is a slow movie. This didn’t prove a problem for me, because I was quite happy to slow to match it.
- *gross sobbing* I like sad movies, but they DO make me sad.