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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Everything Is Illuminated

    ‘Everything is Illuminated’ is a well-intentioned film, adapted and directed by Liev Schreiber, from the novel of the same name written by Jonathan Safran Foer.Unfortunately, good intentions do not necessarily make a good film.

    This isn’t the sort of movie where you would leave the theater wondering how you could have better spend those 10 dollars, nor will you recall how bored you were during the film’s hour and forty-five minute duration.Chances are you’ll walk away from the film feeling absolutely nothing at all.Sadly, this story – that had so much potential – leaves the viewer with little material to have any sort of response, negative or otherwise.

    The story follows the young and awkward Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood), who goes on a search for the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Holocaust.He travels to Ukraine and enlists the help of Alex Perchov (Eugene Hutz) and his grandfather (Boris Leskin), who runs a business to help American Jews find traces of their ancestry in Ukraine.The three of them, and a dog named Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr., go on an adventure around the Ukrainian countryside where, of course, typically banal wackiness ensues.Were there not a tie-in to the Holocaust, this could have been any other bland buddy road trip movie.

    The blandness of the film can be greatly, and surprisingly, attributed to Wood’s portrayal of Jonathan.Wood, whose youthfully innocent appearance would seem to lend itself to Jonathan’s own odd naivet’eacute;, plays Jonathan with an almost disturbing detachment from the character.Jonathan comes across as hokey and insincere, which is off-putting from even the oddest of heroes.

    The imagery in parts of the movie, in particular an endless field of sunflowers, is beautiful, but ultimately meaningless.These fantastic images (and the viewers) have only a superficial connection to the characters or events that are transpiring in this young man’s life.It’s frustrating to watch a film knowing that something greater lies beneath the surface, but no one took the time to aspire to reach that greatness.

    The only redeeming aspect was the character of Alex.Hutz does a beautiful job of filling Alex with an inextinguishable light and life that makes him infinitely endearing.He transitions easily from a character of comic relief to one of deep and moving insight.His insecurity is trumped by his kind heart, and even though his English is not, as he says, ‘so premium,’ nothing that he feels is lost in the translation.You can read it on his face.

    It’s impossible to strongly like or dislike ‘Everything Is Illuminated,’ despite how it clearly tries to invoke some emotion.What that emotion is?I’m not really sure.It is unsatisfying because ultimately it leaves you feeling nothing at all.

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