Everything is Illuminated (2005)

This quirky film about a young Jewish collector researching his grandfather's story in Ukraine is quite a joy to watch.

I wasn't completely keen on seeing Elijah Wood. Something about him throws me off guard, like he knows that I know that he's acting. But this film really changed my mind. The two central Ukrainian actors (I'm guessing their nationality here) are really inspiring. Their gruffness juxtaposed with their tenderness is beautiful.

This film is actually very funny. Example: the "seeing-eye-bitch" for the grandfather who pretends that he's blind is labelled demented, but really is quite normal for a dog, which makes the family more demented than the dog. The dialogue perfectly and hilariously defines the characters, who are refreshingly original.

The swirling themes of memory and family and heritage and journey are poignantly depicted among sweeping Ukrainian fields (though it was all shot in Czech Republic) and a stuffy car.

The ending is pleasantly surreal and eases us from some of the sorrow we witnessed.

Official Site | IMDB

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