This Movie is Rated PG13 – For Disturbing Images/Violence, Sexual Content and Language
Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood) is a collector of his family’s memories (wait until you see his collection wall). He makes a trip to the Ukraine to find out more about his family’s past. Also, to find the woman that saved his grandfather from the Nazis in 1942.
He will make the journey through the Ukraine with his translator, Alex (Eugene Hutz) and his driver, who is Alex’s grandfather (Boris Leskin). As you can guess there will be many cases of misunderstandings and culture clashes, which become a learning experience for everyone involved. The movie is beautifully filmed and the music is wonderful.
The opening sequences show the vast differences in Jonathan and Alex’s lives. Jonathan’s is quiet, reflective and more solitary. While Alex’s is noisy, chaotic and he is almost always surrounded by people. They really picked the perfect actors for those roles.
Elijah Wood is wonderful as Jonathan. He is so good at quiet, contemplative roles and of course he has the most expressive eyes. It’s exactly what is needed for this role. You need to feel what his character is going through on this journey and Elijah really delivers.
What can I say about Eugene? I absolutely love him in the role of Alex. He has some of the best lines in the movie and his delivery is spot on. In fact I could list just about everything that comes out of Alex’s mouth as one of my favorite quotes. Plus he is so charismatic; Eugene can’t help but steal the show in this movie.
I have to say I can really relate to the scene at the hotel where Jonathan is trying to explain that he is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat meat. They really don’t get it and ask him “what is wrong with you”. Being a vegan I have had the same type of problem, although most people are a bit more subtle about it.
Alex – “Father retrieved her from the home for forgetful dogs, because of this she is not a real seeing-eye b*tch … and is also mentally deranged.”
Alex – “Many girls want to be carnal with me because I am such a premium dancer.”
Alex – “Please do not be distressed, this is only driver’s seeing-eye b*tch. Ok she is deranged … but so, so playful.”
Alex – “Grandfather informs me that this is not possible.”
Alex – “But I truly feel I was born to be an accountant.”
Alex – “Why do you make such a rigid search?”
Alex – “Make sure to secure the door when I am gone. I do not want to make a petrified person, but there are many dangerous people who want to take things from Americans and also kidnap them … ok … goodnight.”
Alex – “Valet?”
Jonathan – “You know the guy that parks your car.”
Alex – “Why do you not park your own car?”
Jonathan – “Your shirt, it’s inside out.”
Alex – “What does it mean, inside out?”
The guy at the beginning of the movie with the leaf blower (at the cemetery) is the real Jonathan Safran Foer. He wrote the book that this movie is based on.
Eugene Hutz (the guy playing Alex) is the frontman for a gypsy punk band called Gogol Bordello. In fact his band is the one that plays for Jonathan when he arrives at the train station. They also do three songs for the movie, one of which plays during the credits (Start Wearing Purple).
I discovered Gogol Bordello because of this movie and am now a huge fan. No matter what kind of mood I’m in, their music always puts a smile on my face. I got the chance to see them live last year and they are fabulous. Eugene is an incredible frontman and the band is full of energy.
I will warn you that while a good majority of the movie is in English, there are some subtitles. Don’t let that put you off from seeing this wonderful movie though, even my husband (who absolutely hates subtitles) had no problem with this one.
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
While this movie started being Jonathan’s journey, it ended up being a journey for all of them. I liked how their stories ended up being interconnected.
More favorite scenes:
At the train station when Jonathan first arrives at the car. The whole interaction about whether the grandfather is healthy. Then being scared of Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. (the dog) and being told that she is needed because the driver is blind. It was all so funny and shows you what to expect going forward.
I love how throughout the movie Alex takes liberties when translating for his grandfather. Saying much nicer things than his grandfather did.
Jonathan’s dream where the plastic bags are floating down the river while we hear them whispering their stories is so moving.
I really like Alex’s voiceover at the end of the movie as Jonathan is traveling home. It sums up their journey nicely and always gives me goose bumps.