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Intense: not for the light hearted and has wrong age classification.
on 14 June 2008
Most of the film is in Persian/Dari with subtitles, which may be more of an issue for some viewers than others. It tells the story of two Afghan boys, one rich, and one poor who enjoy a close friendship in Afghanistan on the eve of the Soviet invasion. They are keen kite flyers, although a personal dispute makes their friendship go sour just as the invasion is happening. One boy escapes with his wealthy anti-communist father to America, whilst the other remains in Afghanistan.
Years pass, and the refugee boy is now a successful published author living in America. He then receives a phone call, telling him that his friend is dead, and that there is something very important he should know about him which explains the close bond his father seemed to have with his friend. Also, the friend has gone on to have a son, who is now being kept as a slave by a Taliban commander following his fathers death. The refugee turned author must now re-infiltrate Afghanistan, now under Taliban control to rescue his friends son, and avoid being killed by the Taliban who will not take kindly to his American passport, or his clumsy mistakes concerning their strict interpretation of Islamic law.
It has to be said, this film has a number of very jarring violent and adult scenes that are much stronger than the ludicrous 12 classification. Early in the film, a boy is anally raped, and whilst we mercifully don't see the actual act, it is clearly implied. Also, there is a rather jarring scene where a woman in a burqa is stoned to death for adultery at a Taliban rally. During the escape from the Soviet invasion, a Russian troop points a gun at a convoy of refugees, and offers to let them go in exchange for sexual favours from the women. Needless to say, these themes and scenes are not very appropriate for 12 year olds.
All in all, the film is a very good show. It has some powerful themes and scenes, but it is not light viewing. If you like intense entertainment, this is for you. The infrequent but strong violence means its not one to watch with the kids, despite the rather tame seeming 12 classification. This film should at very least have been a 15.