Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Everything Is Illuminated & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & ow do you tell a story about yourself without exposing your rampant narcissism or opening your bizarrely earnest philosophies to an uncaring, cynical world? You go fictional. You write yourself into a story told by someone else. You let the characters make the grandiloquent statements and, if people criticize them -- well, they weren't your words, they were your character's. You were using them to point out the softness and naivet & eacute; of the age. That's called postmodernism, friends. It's a sideways whack at self-seriousness through the gauzy lens of falsified irreverence, and it's a big part of what made Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Everything Is Illuminated, so great.


For reasons that aren't his fault -- reasons that have to do with the nature of literature versus that of film -- Liev Schreiber's adaptation of Safran Foer's book has none of those wonderful postmodern elements. In the film, there's no sense that Safran Foer is telling this story through a fictional narrator. Here he's just a character -- the impetus for the film, but not its center. That's just as well, because Foer isn't as interesting as the events swirling around him. The film takes place in the Ukraine, and at its center are a teenager, Alex (Eugene Hutz), and his grandfather (Boris Leskin). They run a service reuniting descendents of Holocaust Jews with the locations where their relatives lived (or, in most cases, died). Safran Foer hires the duo to find the woman who helped his grandfather escape the Germans.


Sounds more depressing than it is, though. Alex is a break-dancer and club kid whose self professed love for the "American Negroes" and hip-hop culture makes him a pariah in his family. Most of the considerable humor in the film derives from Alex speaking broken English with panache.


The film eventually meditates on the importance and power of history (all of the characters are anchored by the horror of the Third Reich), but the effort comes a little too late. There's wholly too much focus placed on humor and kitsch in Schrieber's screenplay. Such things often countervail tragedy, making it all the more bitter and forceful, but the ratio's off here, leaving us unsure what to feel. (Rated PG-13)

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Cherry Pitfalls
  • Cherry Pitfalls

    Why fruit is rotting on trees while workers wait at the border
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • The Real Threats
  • The Real Threats

    What worries Spokane's sheriff; plus, Washington's lawmakers finally hash out a budget
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Party of Five?
  • Party of Five?

    Why Spokane County's newest commissioner is leading the fight to add two more
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Moscow ArtWalk 2015

Moscow ArtWalk 2015 @ Downtown Moscow

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation