May 22, 2006
'Everything is Illuminated'
A delightful movie set in Ukraine that reminded me of the award winning movie " Life is Beautiful' by Roberto Benini. The humorous and the sombre are beautifully woven together in a setting almost pastoral. The story revolves around a young Jewish American, Jonathan, who travels to Ukraine in search of a woman who had befriended his grandfather during World War II and had helped his grandfather escape to the USA. Jonathan has a compulsive need to collect random items as memorablia for remembering people/ things/ incidents that he is afraid he'd otherwise forget. It is comical to see Jonathan pulling out ziplock bags with an ease and the elan of a check out clerk in a grocery store. Then there is Alex, Jonathan's young translator, who loves America and everything American, but speaks English that comes straight out of a thesaurus and that makes for some really funny dialogues. Alex's gandfather, the third in the trio and also the driver of the car they are travelling in claims to be partially blind and thus has an additional passenger in the car: a 'crazy''see' bitch.
The journey they undertake is laden with grave and sinister undertones, but the interaction of this foursome in the antiquated car makes for some great humor and the viewer every now and again forgets the sombre nature of Jonathan's mission until the plot intervenes. The plot, though serious, is not maudlin and the events can therefore be chewed upon before being swallowed.
The movie makes for some good comedy even while it brings forth some harsh truths about life during the Holocaust. It is about illuminating a past, in the light of which not only do the present day relationships get enlightened but even the future looks a lot brighter.