Everything Is Illuminated

Director: Liev Schreiber
Year Released: 2005
Rating: 1.5

A clean-cut American with a pretentious habit of placing things in plastic bags (Elijah Wood) travels to Eastern Europe to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life and, of course, experience how extroverted and loony non-Americans are. The film doesn't work at all - the beginning is played for comedy before shifting abruptly to outright melodrama, trying to literally claw the tears out of your eyes with its dirty fingernails - but it is a marked improvement over the substantially hollow and borderline unreadable novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, who's playing to the po-mo crowd. It's supposed to be a story of self-discovery for the Wood character, but he's such a meek non-character you never get the sense he's really moved by any of this - and, once again, those bad old Nazis are brought out again for our collective loathing, only in a more spectral form.