Everything is Illuminated

by Alan Rapp on September 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Everything is Illuminated
  • IMDB: link

everything-is-illuminated-posterStrange.  Quirky.  Moving.  Poignant.  Wonderful.  There are so many words to describe Everything is Illuminated that I find it hard to choose them.  It is simply one of the best movies of the year.

Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood) collects everything dealing with his family.  After receiving a photograph from his grandmother, he decides to travel to the Ukraine to meet Augustine, the woman in the photograph with his grandfather, who he believes saved his life during WWII.  He procures the services of Alex (Eugene Hutz) and his grandfather (Boris Leskin) who is a driver who sometimes believes he is blind and will not go anywhere without his seeing-eye-bitch Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. The trio and dog travel to try and find the small town and the woman in the picture amid the emptiness of the Ukrainian countryside.

The quirky nature and look of the film reminded me of recent films like Big Fish and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  For me the difference was the emotional center of the film; it isn’t only about being strange and quirky, but it’s also about a meaningful and emotional journey that slowly unfolds before our eyes.

Sure we are given absurd comic events and odd visual settings, but its the heart of the picture that makes the movie so remarkable and memorable.  Everything from the music to the odd characters and scenery add to the flavor of the story, but they never intrude too far on what is a very human story about searching through the past of someone you love not knowing exactly what you may find.

This is one of those movies where the journey, for all the characters, is much more important than the destination.  Each character comes to find some form of understanding, peace, or knowledge through the travel.  I can’t recommend this film highly enough.  It is one of the best, if not the best, films of the year.  Its offbeat and strange nature will probably stop it from getting the praise and attention is so richly deserves.  If this movie is playing at a theater near you please go see it rather than a big budget movie playing in the next theater.  This my friends is cinema in the truest and best sense of the word; it needs to be cherished.

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