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Movie Review: Everything is Illuminated

Alternate Title: The Persistence of Memory

Story: Collectors can sometimes become the institutional memory of generations, civilizations and families. Based on the autobiographical novel by Jonathan Safran Foer and directed by first timer Liev Schreiber we are treated to a funny, sweet and sad trip of a young man looking for his roots.

Intense young Jonathan collects everything. This passion and curiosity leads him to the birthplace of his departed grandfather in what is now the Ukraine. The people he meets, the memories that are uprooted and the finding of self in those tortured buried memories give this quirky film a sweet sadness that any second or third generation American can relate.

If you like small character driven films, this one is for you. I enjoyed it a great deal and could not help but think about my own grandparents as they struggled to get out of Russia and come to America.

Acting: Elijah Wood is desperately trying to rid himself of his Frodo character. He is somewhat catatonic in this portrayal but this allows the very kinetic Ukrainian guides to shine. Eugene Lutz as young Alex is fabulous with his tortured use of the English language and Boris Leskin as Grandpa Alex shines as well.

Predilection: None

Critters: A remarkable mixed breed named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr is outstanding as the 'seeing eye bitch.'

Food: a potato is featured.

Soundtrack: A delightful blend of music.

Visual Art: Some stark Ukrainian landscape and great interior details.

Theater Audience: More crowded than I would have imagined.

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all except for thinking about how so many people had to flee their homelands because of persecution and still are doing so.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 3

Predictability Level: Moderate

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: No nits to pick

Big Screen or Rental: I always like to support indie films and check out the big screen. For some other Elijah Wood's films check out: Sin City, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,The Ice Storm, The Good Son, Radio Flyer and Avalon.

Length: Under two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 7