Everything is Illuminated

Rated 4.0

A young American Jew (Elijah Wood) travels to Ukraine hoping to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis, aided in his quest by a local translator (Eugene Hutz), whose command of English is idiosyncratic at best, and the translator’s grandfather (Boris Leskin), who claims to be blind even as he drives their car. Adapting Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, writer-director Liev Schreiber compacts the novel’s multigenerational story into the young man’s search, with fleeting flashbacks, while finding nifty parallels for Foer’s style (the book’s main character has the author’s name; Wood, in that role, resembles Schreiber himself). The film is by turns comical and poignant, and laced with sad surprises and discoveries. Hutz (frontman for the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello) is especially good.