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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Everything Is Illuminated': An Exhilarant Tale of Adventure, Discovery and Burgeoning Self-Identity

Movie poster for the film Everything Is Illuminated starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz

"Everything Is Illuminated" (2005) is a seriocomic escapade starring Elijah Wood as Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the film's source novel that features a fictionalized version of himself, journeying to Eastern Europe in search of the woman who once saved his grandfather's life.

A young American Jew deeply obsessed with his family's background, Foer receives an aged photograph from his grandmother on her deathbed showing his grandfather alongside an unfamiliar woman Augustina. Learning that Augustina was responsible for his grandfather's survival during the Holocaust, Foer journeys to the Ukraine in an impulsive bid to track down this mysterious benefactor. Hiring a highly enthusiastic young translator/guide named Alex (Eugene Hütz) as well as Alex's cantankerous grandfather (Boris Lyoskin), Foer sets off on a slapdash journey beset by complication, comicality and revelation.

Directed by actor Liev Schreiber in his feature film debut, "Everything Is Illuminated" is a spirited and intoxicating tale of discovery, seamlessly balancing humor and poignancy along the course of its involved storyline. Highlighted by Hütz's outright hilarious depiction of a young hustler engrossed in American culture, it's a deeply pleasing rumination on heritage, culture and burgeoning self-identity.


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