Everything Is Illuminated

I appreciate art that I can connect with. Whether it’s getting goose bumps from listening to a song, not being able to put a certain book down or even weeping from a film, kudos to that artist because they did something better than just their job. I’m not a film connoisseur by any means, but I do know what I like and what I don’t like. And what I do like are foreign and independent films. Although most friends cannot understand my love for such an art, they have still been dragged to little cinemas down hidden streets or hippy theatres instead of the local blockbuster to catch a flick. I don’t know what it was that got me hooked on these films, but I find the stories so much more intricate and interesting and the characters to possess such rare qualities.

One of my all-time favourite films is “Everything is Illuminated” based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. The film stars Elijah Wood as a young Jewish American collector who travels to Ukraine in search of information on his deceased grandfather. To help his journey he hires Eugene Hutz, a Ukrainian tour guide, who speaks in hilarious by-the-book English translations, and Hutz’s grandfather as the tour driver. As the three men and the grandfathers beloved dog embark on an adventure, they all discover so much more than intended.

This is Liev Schreiber’s debut film as a director. He focuses the film on changes in Eastern Europe from World War II through post-Cold War and how the younger generation now lives with those memories.

I not only fell in love with the plot, but the film means so much more to me because of my Czech background. I could relate to so many scenes including the shock that Hutz and his grandfather had when Wood confesses he’s a vegetarian. Not eating meat would be something extremely strange in my family as well and something that my grandmothers would definitely not understand. It also reminded me of my trip to Czech Republic last spring as most of the driving scenes were shot in the cities and countryside there. The soundtrack is incredible and it features Devotchka’s single “How It Ends” in the trailer. This movie will make you laugh, cry and keep you guessing throughout…now that’s what I call a great film!

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