A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A noble child sets an example for a more fearful boy. A single father is sometimes remote from his son, with high expectations. A childhood bully, Soviet troops, and Taliban members are all cruel and visibly odious. Very little attention is paid to women's lives under both traditional Afghani custom and extreme Taliban rule.
Violence & Scariness
Central plot element is a homosexual rape (both victim and perpetrator are adolescent boys), briefly indicated by close-ups of a belt being unbuckled, pants pulled down, and the victim's face pressed against the ground. He looks frightened and pained, and his blood drips on the snow as he walks away. A bully threatens younger boys, a child uses a slingshot, and a boy throws pomegranates at his friend. War scenes include explosions, tanks, and soldiers with guns. A hanged man visible in the street, and kids throw rocks at each other. The Taliban stone a woman and man to death (mostly shown in long shot, but blood visible and it's very clear what's happening). Guns aimed at visitor. Fierce fistfight leaves participants bloodied and smashed. Hero appears with black eye, swollen face, and bloody face. Goat's head lies bloody in the dirt (cut off by Kabul butcher as part of routine preparation).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Discussion of "giving" orphans to a local Taliban leader (for sexual reasons that are hinted at, but not discussed in any detail) in order to save the remaining children.
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Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus occasional instances of "hell" and "goddamn." Derogatory/racist references to the "hazara" (who are from the Black Mountain of Hazara region and are mostly Shi'a muslims).
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Products & Purchases
References to U.S movies, like Bullitt, El Cid, The Magnificent Seven.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent cigarette smoking, mostly by Amir's father. Some drinking at parties and a bar; a child serves drinks to adults at a party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this often-harrowing drama set primarily in Afghanistan focuses on children's experiences, the themes are mature. Children are repeatedly in peril, and there's a disturbing, though not explicit, scene in which a young boy is raped by older boys (close-ups of faces and a belt being unbuckled indicate what's going on). Several scenes show warfare (explosions, gunfire, bloody bodies) during the Soviet invasion; others depict Taliban oppression (a public stoning, beatings, taunting of civilians). One hanged body is visible on the street. A brief tirade features several uses of "f--k" in a row; other language includes "hell" and "damn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Like the source novel by Khaled Hosseini, Marc Forster's film is frequently contrived and melodramatic. Yet it also focuses attention on the terrible consequences of war and tyranny. The film's brutal villains -- once someone's children, their "colors" filled in or not -- are stereotypical, at once homophobic and unhesitating to use homosexual rape as a weapon. But they're aided by essentially decent bystanders, who do nothing in the face of even the most personal instances of cruelty and abuse.
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Our Editors Recommend
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