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Everything Is Illuminated (2005) - movie overview

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

User Rating
(21 votes)
Critic Rating
(9 reviews)
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Plot Description
Shooting Locations

Release Date
 USA: Sep 16, 2005
 UK: 9 Sep 2005
DVD Release Date
 R1: Mar 21, 2006

Budget USD 7,000,000
BoxOffice: $1.6M

Official Website:
Everything Is Illuminated Website

MPAA Rating
Rated PG-13 for disturbing images/violence, sexual content and language.

Running Time
1 hour, 40 minutes

Country USA

Production Companies
Warner Independent Pictures, Telegraph Films, Big Beach Films, Big Beach Productions, Stillking Films

Studio Warner Independent

More info on

Other Titles
• Everything Is Illuminated (2005)
• The Collector

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Genre: Drama, Comedy

Tagline: Leave Normal Behind.

Plot: Acclaimed actor Liev Schrieber (DAYTRIPPERS, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE) makes his directorial debut in this adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's bestselling novel about a young Jewish-American writer of the same name. Mixing equal parts black comedy and poignant drama, the film follows Jonathan (Elijah Wood) as he travels to the Ukraine to solve a family secret. There he meets his barely legitimate tour guides: Alex (Eugene Hutz, member of the folk-punk band Gogol Bordello), a cosmopolitan playboy obsessed with Michael Jackson and other American icons; Alex's grandfather (Boris Leskin), a man worn down by life who seems to be losing his grip on reality; and Sammy Davis, Jr. Jr, the "seeing-eye bitch" dog who comes along for the ride. As Jonathan closes in on his goal--to find the story behind the woman who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust--it becomes clear that Alex's grandfather has a dark secret of his own that needs to be, as the film suggests, illuminated.

EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED lives up to the quirkiness of its source material, and is similar to films like BEING JOHN MALKOVICH or LOST IN TRANSLATION. Filmed on location in Prague, the film features breathtaking landscapes, including a memorable scene in a field of sunflowers. Also notable is the film's

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 External Reviews
external linkOne can easily see how Everything Is Illuminated could be a deeply personal effort. Unfortunately, the meaning a project has for a director is not always conveyed to an audience. This is one such case. This movie is sloppy and disjointed - an unsatisfying melodrama built upon a shaky foundation of contrivances, coincidences, and plot holes. Although there's an aura of sincerity that keeps the picture from teetering into the "bad" category... 2/4

external linkThe journey is worth taking, even if the film is somewhat messy in style and unpolished in its presentation.
--William Wolf

external link...Deprived of much of Alex's dialogue from the book, as well as the historical background that gave the other, admittedly thin, story some needed weight, the film is an incomplete thing which easily loses its way, and will likely leave viewers stranded along with it. 2/5
--Chris Barsanti

external linkurrounding the actors is an evocative soundtrack, mixing traditional gypsy music with Gogol Bordello tunes, and a score inspired by the region's music. It is like beautiful paper surrounding a gift, and that in fact, is what this film is, a gift from Schreiber to his grandfather, and by extension, to the rest of the world. It's a lovely gesture and a remarkable first effort. 4/4

external linkEverything Is Illuminated, however, is so badly adapted that the context for its grief, pain, even humor, feels hacked away. As a result, the movie feels adrift as it plods onward towards a riverbank that marks a meeting ground between the past and the present 2/5
--Jay Antani (

external linkShould you venture forth and see the film? I suppose so; the good is pretty much at even-stevens with the bad; grasshopper faux pas firmly aside. There are some funny bits, and bountiful touching bits within a beautifully shot film. Schreiber's directorial calling card is on a good stock. Enjoy. 2.5/4

 Directed by
Liev Schreiber
Scream, Scream 3, Scream 2
 Written by
Liev Schreiber
Scream, Scream 3, Scream 2
Elijah Wood
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Eugene Hutz
Gogol Bordello Non-stop, Kill Your Idols
 Music By
Paul Cantelon
The River Wild

external linkLIEV Schreiber's film version of "Everything Is Illuminated" achieves the impossible it's even more annoying than Jonathan Safran Foer's gratingly precocious novel. 1/4
--Lou Lumenick (New York Post)

external linkEverything is Illuminated tries so hard to be a masterpiece. It cajoles and complains, tries both scaling and kicking the mountain before it finally crashes down into the realm of merely good. Merely good is not so bad, merely good is better than most. It is sad that I'm going to bicker more about what went wrong then what went right, but I had visions of a masterpiece too, a once a decade romp, something to truly write home about. B
--Laremy Legel

external linkEverything is Illuminated is an admirably ambitious directorial debut by actor Liev Schreiber, not because of a large scope but more correctly because of its small one. This is a movie about characters learning about their pasts that concentrates on those characters while enhancing the world around them in ways that are cinematically unique and interesting. 8/10
--Jeffrey Chen

external linkThere's a message and a point to Everything is Illuminated, but its real joy is in the details, in the way the things that make it funny are also the very things that make it heartbreaking. A-
--Eugene Novikov (FilmBlather)

Elijah Wood in Everything Is Illuminated Wallpaper 1
©2005 Warner Independent Pictures

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