Watch the trailer here.

Based on Khaled Hosseini's 2003 novel, 'The Kite Runner' is an enthralling story of childhood betrayal and adult redemption, set against Afghanistan's tumultuous recent history.

The film follows the fortunes of the father and son pairing of Baba (Ershadi) and Amir (Ebrahimi). When we first encounter them in the late 1970s, they live in comfortable surroundings in the Afghan capital of Kabul, and are served by Ali (Tanha) and his son Hassan (Mahmoodzada).

The two boys have a close relationship, but it is one which is shattered when Amir fails to intervene when he witnesses a local teenager rape Hassan. Wracked by guilt and visibly ashamed of Hassan's experience, Amir begins to shun his friend, leading to a breakdown in communication between them.

After Ali resigns from his job, Amir and Baba are forced to flee as the Russians invade Afghanistan. We later happen upon them in San Francisco, where they have ended up living in decidedly less plush conditions than they did in their homeland.

Amir (now played by Abdalla) gains college qualifications, but decides to pursue his dream of writing in spite of his father's wish for his son to become a doctor. Latterly, Amir is contacted from the Middle East and learns that his old friend is in trouble. When he arrives there, he finds that Hassan is dead and that his late friend's son, Sohrab (Bakhtyari), is being held by the Taliban.

Amir travels back to Afghanistan in order to atone for his previous behaviour and save Sohrab from the inhuman treatment dished out by the Taliban.

As always with these kinds of adaptations, readers of the book may feel aggrieved that the film fails to match the depth of its literary predecessor. However, the film version deserves to be judged on its own merits, and in that sense director Marc Foster has done a fine job here.

Crucially, the pivotal scene is handled with extreme care, and is as subtle as it can be without undermining the traumatic severity of such degrading attacks. Though covering a lengthy period of time, the story never seems rushed and we move seamlessly through the years.

There are several notable performances, but Homayoun Ershadi's portrayal of Baba is particularly brilliant. His scenes with Zekeria Ebrahimi are excellent, with Baba's kindness and bravery running contrary to his offspring's selfishness and lack of moral courage.

Unfortunately, though, Khalid Abdalla does not match the quality of his fellow cast members. His transformation as the mature Amir from meek to masterful does not ring true. It must be said, however, that this is one of the very few errors in a gripping and, at times, gut-wrenching tale.

Séamus Leonard