Film Reviews, Short Review

Everything is Illuminated (2005)

2.5/4

Everything is Illuminated is a film of two halves, both in terms of its structure and in terms of its quality. There’s a lot to like here, but it’s dressed up in a whole bunch of very distracting and annoying choices. Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello for example, turns out to be a brilliant actor, but the other leading name is Elijah Wood; a good actor but here he’s reduced to no more than his typecast slightly scared and constantly bemused status, and it doesn’t work. The story, about an American Jew’s trip to Ukraine to find the village his grandfather grew up in before the Holocaust, is also deeply moving, but it is drawn around a rather ok comedy about culture clashes, where the comedy often comes from a slightly disingenuous American point-of-view about the stranger aspects of Eastern European culture – it’s an outsider looking in and laughing rather than an insider looking out and laughing – resulting in a mediocre comedy and a very good drama.

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