A young Jewish American man endeavors to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village, that was ultimately razed by the Nazis, with the help of an eccentric local.
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.
A young Jewish American flies to Ukraine in search of his grandfather's past. He has a photograph and the name of a village. He hires Odessa Heritage Tours, made up of a gruff old man and his English-speaking grandson. The three, plus grandfather's deranged dog, travel in an old car from Odessa into Ukraine's heart. Jonathan, the American, is a collector, putting things he finds into small plastic bags, so he will remember. Alex, the interpreter, is an archetypal wild and crazy guy. Alex asks the old man, "Was there anti-Semitism in the Ukraine before the war?" Will they find the village? The past illuminates everything. Written by
Several songs are credited to the New York punk/Gypsy/Jewish klezmer band, Gogol Bordello, which is led by Eugene Hutz, who plays Alex in the film (the same band greets Jonathan when he arrives on the train). The last of these songs, "Start Wearing Purple (For Me Now)," which plays over the end credits, is credited to both a correct spelling (Gogol Bordello), dg and Gogol Bodello, an incorrect spelling. See more »
I just saw "Everything is Illuminated" at the Telluride Film Festival. This is a truly remarkable film. Very emotional, funny at times and heart-warming. Bring your handkerchiefs! For those of you who enjoy a movie that brings tears to your eyes, I'm reminded of the endings of "Babette's Feast" and "The Notebook." The stories were completely different but had that same emotional power to bring tears to my eyes, just as this film did.
No spoilers here. The summary is, as IMDb describes, a young man's journey to the Ukraine to follow his roots and find the village where his father grew up.
The dialog is in English and Ukrainian (and Russian too, I believe). This allows for some wonderfully linguistically-based moments as one character interprets, more or less faithfully, for the English speaker in the group, depending on the circumstances.
The scenery is wonderful and the musical score is a treat with wonderful Eastern European influences. Be sure you stay through the credits for the final tune.
This is Lieve Schreiber's directorial debut and is well done. I give this film a 9, one of the best films I've seen in a long time. I recommend it highly.
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