My wife picked up "Everything Is Illuminated" for me one day. She said she saw the DVD cover and thought that it looked right up my alley with its goggle-eyed Elijah Wood and the glaringly yellow background. I couldn't tell her that I'd seen the flick sitting at the rental place for some time and always passed over it BECAUSE of the goggle-eyed Wood. However, to my surprise this is one of the best films I've ever watched.
It tells the tale of Jonathan Safran Foer's quest to find a woman who saved his grandfather from the Holocaust so many years ago. Wood's character is very quirky, collecting odds and ends from different periods in his life in Ziploc bags and sticking them to a labeled wall full of family pictures. He heads for the Ukraine and the almost mythical town of Odessa. Once in the Ukraine, he meets up with his tour guide, Alex, a hip-hopping cool cat played with charm and perfect schtick by Eugene Hutz. Along for the ride is Alex's grandfather and his grandfather's seeing-eye b*#$h, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr. Don't worry about the dog's weird name, it's hilariously explained in the film.
As they make the trip to Odessa, first-time director Liev Schreiber creates and develops his tale with tender humor, moving flashbacks, and Hutz' goofy flair. He uses wonderful visuals, vibrant and sublime colors, and key moments of silence to progress the story.
I don't want to give away much more than the little bit I have. Just know that Wood's character and his companions grow in heart and mind as the story rolls along. Hutz' grandfather plays a key and moving role in the film, and it's hinted at until the very end of the movie.
I'll be a man and say that this film brought me to tears. I laughed out loud at times, stared in awe at others. This is a wonderful work of art and I highly suggest it to anyone who has ever wanted to run the gamut of emotions while watching a film.
***1/2 out of **** If there is one thing that I really admire about "Everything is Illuminated"- and it is hard to pick one thing given how much I liked the film-, it is that the film does not stick to one tone (or genre) throughout. One moment, "Everything is Illuminated" is a bold and very funny comedy. The next moment, it is dark and tense. And then in that final moment, we feel sadness, despair, and a quite feeling of content emotion. The film, and its story, are both … more
Life is not all sad and tragic. Neither is it sunshine and butterflies every day. I love films that take the balance of life--its griefs, joys and absurdities--and present them in a way that enables us to see ourselves and our own lives. Elijah Wood once again finds a role in which he can shape-shift into a character who is decidedly not like him, yet he makes that character real. In fact, all the actors in this film--including the dog--give poignant and profound performances. … more
Pros: Story, music, all performances, balance of humor and contemplation Cons: That it is only 100 mins long The Bottom Line: Mature without being condescending, funny without being insulting. One of the best movies I've seen this year. Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. I haven’t had much luck with my Netflix picks lately. Some of them I didn’t … more
Jonathan Safran Foer's widely read novel 'Everything is Illuminated' was a zany concoction of story, standup comedy, and fantasy that worked well as a diversion because of Foer's very apparent rough style of writing: everything is forgiven if the words play with the imagination. But as a film the book seemed a formidable undertaking. Liev Schreiber, a consummate actor, adapted Foer's book for the screen, performing major surgery on the tale, and then directed his version with great skill. The result … more
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer,Everything is Illuminatedstars Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) as Jonathan Safran Foer, a young Jewish man who wants to learn how his grandfather escaped from the Nazi incursions into Russia. From the U.S., he hires the hip-hop loving Alex (Eugene Hutz, leader of the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello) and his surly grandfather (Boris Leskin,Men in Black) as tour guides--only to discover, when he arrives in Odessa, that they are perhaps less than dependable. Thus begins a curious, almost metaphysical road trip that carries Foer into the past of his grandfather's village and the present of his own compulsive habits. Adapted and directed by Liev Schreiber (best known as an actor inThe DaytrippersandThe Manchurian Candidate),Everything is Illuminatedbuckles a little under its literary weight--what seems deft and resonant in the middle of several hundred pages can feel forced and ove! rstated in a two-hour movie--but it's also full of delightful dialogue, vivid characters, and oddball yet affecting scenes. Wood is his usual charming and neurotic self, but Hutz steals the show with the help of his wonderfully fractured English and his soulful eyes.--Bret Fetzer