Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

Elijah WoodEugene HutzBoris LyoskinJonathan Safran Foer
Liev Schreiber


Everything Is Illuminated (2005) is a English,Russian,Ukrainian movie. Liev Schreiber has directed this movie. Elijah Wood,Eugene Hutz,Boris Lyoskin,Jonathan Safran Foer are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2005. Everything Is Illuminated (2005) is considered one of the best Comedy,Drama movie in India and around the world.

Jewish-American writer Jonathan Safran Foer is a collector of his family's memorabilia, although most of the items, some which he takes without asking, would not be considered keepsakes by the average person. He places most of those items in individual Ziploc bags, and hangs them on his keepsake wall under the photograph of the person to who it is most associated. He has this compulsion in an effort to remember. He is able to tie a photograph that he receives from his grandmother, Sabine Foer, on her deathbed - it of his grandfather, Safran Foer, during the war in the Ukraine, and a young woman he will learn is named Augustine - back to a pendant he stole from his grandfather on his deathbed in 1989, the pendant of a glass encased grasshopper. Learning that Augustine somehow saved his grandfather's life leads to Jonathan going on a quest to find out the story at its source where the photograph was taken, in a now non-existent and probably largely forgotten town called Trachimbrod that...


Everything Is Illuminated (2005) Reviews

  • Austin Movie Show review...


    This is precious. Everything Is Illuminated is sweetly and sublimely funny from the first delicious line of dialogue. Oh, how I've been waiting for this to arrive in Austin. While Elijah Wood is charming as ever as Jonathan Safran Foer (the real-life author of the novel Everything Is Illuminated), it's Eugene Hutz (playing Jonathan's Ukrainian tour-guide and translator, Alex) who truly steals this film. Alex is a hip-hop-lovin' Ukrainian break-dancer who, along with his grandfather, helps Jonathan find the woman who saved Jonathan's grandfather's life during World War II. The Ukrainian countryside has never looked so breath taking. I'm thinking of packing it all up and moving to the former Soviet state. The tone of the film, however, shifts when Jonathan and Alex do finally meet the woman they're looking for, and suddenly, this adorable comedy turns into a heart-breaking historical drama about a Jewish village that was annihilated during the Nazi occupation. Everything Is Illuminated is about history, heritage, and the wisdom that can be gained from uncovering the past. It's perfect.

  • Review from 2005 TIFF


    I saw this movie at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated is the directorial debut of actor Liev Schreiber. Schreiber also wrote the screenplay. In the movie, Jonathan (Elijah Wood) obsessively collects items from his family, from toothbrushes to retainers to scraps of paper which he then seals in ziploc bags and pins to a wall in his house to record his family history. But the space for his grandfather is conspicuously bare. All Jonathan really has of him is a piece of jewelry and an old photo of him with a woman who hid him from the Nazis during the Second World War. Jonathan decides to undertake a quest to Ukraine to find the woman, thank her, and learn more about his grandfather. His quest is aided there by a couple of characters who run a tourist company for Jewish people, including a young man obsessed with western culture (Eugene Hutz), his grandfather (Boris Leskin), who thinks he is blind and who may have memories and demons of his own from the war, and his grandfather's temperamental seeing eye dog. The screenplay effectively combines both humour and drama as the three characters travel through the countryside looking for Jonathan's grandfather's town, driving deeper and deeper into the memories of the past. The best performance probably comes from Eugene Hutz, playing Alex Jr., who starts the movie as a tracksuit-wearing, break dancing slacker just out to have fun but evolves into something more as not only Jonathan, but all the characters gain their own illumination. Liev Schreiber, Elijah Wood, and Eugene Hutz attended the screening and did a very humorous Q&A after the film: Eugene Hutz then took over the story. He had never pursued acting as music was his first passion. One day, a friend gave him the book, and he thought it was written in a manner similar to how he writes music; screw sentences/syntax, language is my own. Later, they got a call from a production company, looking for eastern European music that was medieval but modern. Hutz met with Schreiber, and he soon found the movie was based on the book he just happened to be reading. Not long after that came up, Schreiber asked Hutz what he thought about Alex and whether he could do the character by any chance. One of Schreiber's inspirations as a filmmaker is Emir Kusturica (I think that's who he said, who also directed a segment in another festival movie, All the Invisible Children) who said "you don't look for the actors, you look for the people." Schreiber said there is something about who Elijah is that he has a generosity of spirit and a sincere goodness as a human being, that came across on film. Schreiber said that the eyes are important when trying to articulate a character who is an observer, and that if "eyes are the doors to the soul, Elijah's are garage doors."

  • A fresh and funny look on one of history's nightmare


    Everything Is Illuminated A young Jewish American searches for the woman that helped his grandfather escape Nazi persecution while embarking on a cross-European tour with some unlikely associates. Liev Schreiber makes his directorial debut with a playful angst usually associated with his acting ethos. When successful actors decide to sit in the director's chair, we usually get a biographical glimpse at the souls beneath the acting mask- Check. We usually get a mishmash of genres- Check. But what we normally do not get is an insightful original film which is credible, intelligent and moving. Elijah Wood plays Jonathan, an inquisitive young boy who collects pieces of life as he goes. He is on a mission to find a woman in a photograph. The sepia picture bears his grandfather (an uncanny resemblance to him) and the woman. To aid his journey he enlists the help of travel guides that comprise of a Hip-Hop loving break-dancer, Alex (Eugene Hutz), his apathetic and perma-vexed grandfather (Boris Leskin) and his dog- Sammy Davis Junior Jr! What ensues is essentially a comedy. There is an un-patronisingly simple introduction with voice-overs. Alex's is especially funny as he educates his younger brother on the year 1969, proving how popular he is with the chicks and break-dancing thus setting him up as Jonathan's antithesis. Schreiber begins to break down the characters as they progress and the comedy acts as an intentional veil to what is a story about three people linked to the holocaust who do not really know themselves. All three hold the film with tenderness and authenticity something Schreiber was unlikely to get wrong and as enchanting and fantastical as the film is, the horrors that are allowed to crack through, i.e. the past are presented in an almost palatable tone (incidental music, cinematography) which make them all the more unsettling. As the unlikely group finally find the town they seek they learn of the true atrocities that occurred and find out a lot about who they really are. Elijah wood is as authentic as usual, bringing his usual innocence and strength to the screen. Formally a resident good in Lord of the Rings and a resident evil in Sin City he plays Jonathan with aplomb as he is bombarded with culture shocks and a quest for truth. Boris Leskin as the grandfather also delivers his angst and frustration at the youths with great humour and conviction as his own past is unravelled. However, it is Eugene Hutz as Alex that makes the show. The director using that old trade of translation misunderstandings to create and maintain a humour that is actually funny and not gimmicky. Schreiber has delivered an enchanting debut that has both heart and soul. The continuous score and beautiful photography creates a fairy tale haze around a story about identity, truth and family. If there was a complaint, it would be the speed at which the film changes direction; though this could have been intentional it may not sit well with all. Nevertheless this is a sterling effort that delivers great comedy and bonding between an unlikely group while dissecting another aspect of the horrors of World War 2 in a completely fresh fashion. -Chi&Ojo

  • Past Illuminates Present in EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED


    Actor turned director Liev Schreiber (The Sum of All Fears) does an above average screen version of the novel, Everything Is Illuminated, by author Jonathan Safran Foer. This tale of journey and self discovery is highlighted by strong ensemble performances and sharp direction with a storyline that enriches and enlightens the soul. Jonathan Foer (Elijah Wood) is a young man who has seen his grandfather, Safran, pass away. Jonathan has a peculiar habit of taking small objects and life's little memorabilia and sealing them in plastic ziplock bags to display them on his wall. Safran gives Jonathan an old picture showing a young Safran standing next to a beautiful girl who saved his life many years ago. Thus Jonathan commences on a long journey to locate this mystery woman in the Ukraine not knowing if she is still alive. He enlists the help of a brash, young tour guide named Alex (Eugene Hutz) and his grandfather (Boris Leskin) to drive him to his goal. At first the trip hits dead ends and false leads, but as the group nears its target, the men find themselves amid the ruins of a dark chapter in history with the memories of war and the past ghosts of a nonexistent town. There, they find their own respective destinies and will be forever changed by what they learn. This film feels like it was directed by someone who knew how to get the most from his actors. At times, the film is spoken in Russian and seems like a foreign film. The title itself is a play on self discovery. This is a thoughtful trek of one man into his past, and his past ironically involves his companions; Jonathan's obsessive journey becomes an emotional journey for Alex and his grandfather as well. It's a tale of bonding over the long haul and the guilt one must carry for a lifetime. By the end of the film, these characters have all experienced life altering events that will permanently intertwine their lives. It proves that memories can be powerful in traumatizing and also cleansing the soul. It's also about one's legacy and how others view an event or a person in the past. Alex eventually sees his grandfather in a completely different light. Even our perception of these individuals will have changed by film's end which is a tribute to a story that is well told. The story is deceptively simple. It functions as a road trip movie (like The Straight Story) combined with an interesting mystery story. It really involves a great many layers of emotions and subplots that range from the past to the present. The ending is a bit surreal with its déjà vu feeling. Elijah Wood (Sin City, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)) has chosen a wide range of roles ever since his splash in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Here, he does a fine job with what is essentially a minimalist role with not much to show. Eugene Hutz and Boris Leskin fare better as Alex and his grandfather respectively. Even the grandfather's dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. (that's right) is funny as a fiercely loyal companion. The spare music score by Paul Cantelon is a moody compliment to the thoughtful nature of the film. The editing is effective as imagery from past and present are linked and transitioned effortlessly. The cinematography by Matthew Libatique (Gothika, Requiem for a Dream) is appropriately stark and lifeless with some impressive images of war and its aftermath. The coincidences that emerge during the last half of the film make for good drama but are a little too coincidental. We never fully understand the whole background story of Alex's grandfather and what his motivations are. Likewise, Jonathan's blank stares and lack of apparent substance and depth do not give us much more than a sketch of a quirky man. At times, the film feels a little downbeat and depressing as more horrific revelations are exposed. But these are minor criticisms of what is a good, introspective story with good performances and interesting themes of remembrance and closure. That Schreiber not only directed but adapted the screenplay to this worthwhile slice of history is a tribute to his talents and promising potential in the future.

  • A Sentimental Road Trip ThroughThe Impact of Eastern European History


    "Everything is Illuminated" is a simplified interpretation of something more than half of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel. This version is more about changes in Eastern Europe from World War II through post-Cold War and how the younger generation relates to that history as a family memory. Debut director/adapter Liev Schreiber retains some of the humor and language clashes of the novel, mostly through the marvelous Eugene Hutz as the U.S.-beguiled Ukrainian tour guide. He is so eye-catching that the film becomes more his odyssey into his country and his family as he goes from his comfortable milieu in sophisticated Odessa to the heart of a cynical, isolated land that has been ravaged by conquerors through the Communists and now capitalists, with both Jews and non-Jews as detritus. As funny as his opening scenes are when he establishes his cheeky bravura, we later feel his fish-out-of-waterness in his own country when he tries to ask directions of local yokels. Shreiber uses Elijah Wood, as the American tourist, as an up tight cog in a visual panoply, as his character is less verbal than as one of the narrators in the book. He and Hutz play off each other well until the conclusion that becomes more sentimental in this streamlined plot. Once the grandfather's story takes over in the last quarter of the film, marvelously and unpredictably enacted by Boris Leskin, the younger generation does not seem to undergo any catharsis, as they just tidy up the closure. Schreiber does a wonderful job visualizing the human urge to document history. One of his consultants in the credits is Professor Yaffa Eliach and her style of remembering pre-Holocaust shtetl life through artifacts clearly inspired the look and it is very powerful and effective. The Czech Republic stands in for the Ukraine and the production design staff were able to find memorable symbols of change in the cities, towns and countryside, as this is now primarily a road movie, and the long driving scenes do drag a bit. Schreiber retains some of the symbolism from the book, particularly of the moon and river, but having cut out the portions of the book that explain those, they just look pretty or ominous for atmosphere and no longer represent time and fate. As W.C. Fields would have predicted, the dog steals most of his scenes for easy laughs. In general, Schreiber does go for more poignancy than the book. It is irresistibly touching, especially for those who haven't read the book, but less morally and emotionally messy. The film is enormously uplifted by its marvelous soundtrack, which ranges from songs and instrumentals from Hutz's gypsy band to traditional tunes to contemporary tracks to Paul Cantelon's klezmer fusion score. This is not a Holocaust film per se, being a kind of mirror image of "The Train of Life (Train de vie)" as about memory of a time that is freighted with meaning now, but will resonate more with those who have an emotional connection to that history.


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