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Everything Is Illuminated 2005 PG-13 CC

Based on the critically-acclaimed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, "Everything is Illuminated" tells the story of a young man's quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a small Ukrainian town that was wiped off the map by the Nazi invasion.

Starring:
Eugene Hutz, Elijah Wood
Runtime:
1 hour, 45 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Liev Schreiber
Starring Eugene Hutz, Elijah Wood
Supporting actors Jonathan Safran Foer, Jana Hrabetova, Stephen Samudovsky, Ljubomir Dezera, Oleksandr Choroshko, Gil Kazimirov, Zuzana Hodkova, Mikki, Mouse, Boris Leskin, Robert Chytil, Jaroslava Sochova, Sergei Ryabtsev, Yuri Lemeshev, Pamela Racine, Oleksandr Houtz, Ludmila Kartouska, Igor Latta
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2005
Format: DVD
On very rare occasions, it's a good idea not to follow the book.

Jonathan Safran Foer's cult novel "Everything Is Illuminated" has a wild chronology, and the journey is sprinkled with magical realism and countless flashbacks to minor characters. It COULD be crammed into a film, but it would not be a very accessible one. In fact, it might be almost unwatchable.

Enter actor Liev Schreiber, who chopped out much of the backstory and focused on the "road movie in the Ukraine" storyline. No, it's not like the book. But taken on its own, "Everything Is Illuminated" is a a striking, humorous and poignant film. Schreiber should be proud.

Jonathan (Elijah Wood) has a funny fixation about remembering the past, which includes putting life souvenirs in plastic baggies and taping them to the wall. So his curiosity is piqued when his grandmother tells him of Augustina, a woman who rescued his grandfather during World War II. With only a ring and a photo to guide him, Jonathan travels to the Ukraine to find Augustine.

He's met at the station by Alex (Eugene Hutz), a hip-hop tour guide who speaks his own peculiar dialect, Alex's weird, melancholy grandad (Stephen Samudovsky), and grandad's "seeing eye b*tch." As they search the Ukraine for Augustine, if she is still alive, Jonathan begins to learn about the ways the past infringes on the present -- and a bit about himself as well.

Schreiber apparently decided to adapt "Everything Is Illuminated" when he began to chronicle his own family history, and discovered that it was strikingly similar to Foer's novel. For a beloved cult novel, editing and reshaping is a risky business. But in Schreiber's case, it becomes a whole different animal -- it retains the spirit of the original, if not the sense of history.
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Format: DVD
I have not read Jonathan Safran Foer's book "Everything Is Illuminated", and knew nothing of it when sitting down to watch the film adaptation. I only knew that the film starred Elijah Wood and was actor Liev Schreiber's directing debut and it sounded interesting from descriptions I read. So my expectations were pretty modest. I certainly did not expect Schreiber to hit one out of the park his first time up to bat. However, Everything Is Illuminated is indeed a home run and one of the best movies of the year, in my opinion.

Elijah Wood is excellent as Jonathan, a rather odd fellow obsessed with collecting things, particularly as mementos of the past. He travels to the Ukraine and learns a great deal about life, himself, and the future by searching for the past. Also a standout is Eugene Hutz as Jonathan's Ukrainian guide who digs Michael Jackson and wants to be an accountant. Hutz is apparently not an actor, he is the leader of a popular rock band. However, you would never know that he's not an actor, his performance is excellent. The first half of Everything is Illuminated is very humorous, the second half very dramatic. However, the change is tone is very slight. The humor is very funny and the drama is equally potent. The later scenes are very moving and heartfelt without every sinking into cloying sentimentality. The movie from beginning to end is beautifully directed, with wonderful cinematography showcasing the lovely Ukrainian countryside. Schreiber seems to have a very good feeling for visual style. At times it almost reminded of one of my favorite visual stylists: Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Everything Is Illuminated is a wonderful movie. Well directed, well written, well acted, and with it's heart in exactly the right place.
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Format: DVD
I watched this twice, and I honestly never believed I'd see Elijah Wood's character upstaged, but it happened in this movie. The crazy Ukranian (Alex), played by the delightful Eugene Hutz, stole the show with his humor, unique mannerisms and choice of specific English words, adding depth to an already intriquing, emotionally layered film. If not for the humor, this story might've been too heavy. Whether you feel the ending is sad depends upon perspective. Perhaps the grandfather's burdened spirit was finally released after carrying a secret he kept hidden from his family and his own broken heart? This is another movie that has inspired me to read the book. Fantastic!

Chrissy K. McVay - Author
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Format: DVD
Being an Israeli Jew of naturally sarcastic nature as well as a lover of different and independent cinema, it always gives me pleasure to see a film that takes a view on the holocaust that's sensitive and respectful while also being original and unusual. While I haven't read the book - or, for that matter, heard of its existence prior to watching the film - and therefore cannot, like some other reviewers, comment on how they stack up in comparison, Everything Is Illuminated gave me great pleasure, and I can certainly comment on that.

To label Everything Is Illuminated a holocaust film would be to do it great injustice, even though it is undeniably about the holocaust. So would labeling it as a comedy or a travel film, although it's about a journey and is as exceptionally funny as it is moving. Everything Is Illuminated is about Jonathan Safran Foer - played to minimalist perfection by Elijah Wood, in the most impressive dramatic performance I've seen him in yet, with a poker face that shows nothing and reveals all - a young American Jew, and an obsessive collector of family heirlooms and historical artifacts, who travels to the Ukraine on a journey to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. It's also about Alex, his tour guide through the Ukraine, and Alex's grandfather. What's fascinating about these characters is that in the beginning of the film they look like comic relief to balance out the melancholy nature of Wood's character; but both Alex and his grandfather go through fascinating changes throughout the film, and turn out to be at least as important as Jonathan. In fact, Boris Leskin's as the grumpy, self-declared blind grandfather turns out to be the finest dramatic performance in the film.
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