Everything Is Illuminated

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.

illuminated-house

Good:

  • 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

Bad:

  • 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.

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