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Everything is Illuminated (2005)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Reviews Counted: 119
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 40

Although it excises much from its famously dense source material, Everything is Illuminated is a quirky, ambitious debut film from Liev Schreiber.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 16

Although it excises much from its famously dense source material, Everything is Illuminated is a quirky, ambitious debut film from Liev Schreiber.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 59,357

My Rating

Movie Info

A young man takes a strange and unexpectedly funny journey in search of a family heroine he's never known in this screen adaptation of the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. Jonathan (Elijah Wood) is a lifelong collector of any and all objects pertaining to his family, and he has become obsessed with a woman he's never met. The woman saved the life of his grandfather during World War II, when the Ukrainian town where he was born was destroyed by Nazi troops. Wanting to know more about the woman,


Drama, Action & Adventure, Comedy

Liev Schreiber

Mar 21, 2006


Warner Independent Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (130) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (40) | DVD (12)

It's funny and warm, with the sting of the horrific event that triggered the trip giving it a melancholy feel.

October 14, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's profound in the way that life is profound in hindsight, its view of the past both fixed in history and mutable in the telling. And it's exquisitely tender.

October 8, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This isn't a frivolous film or a dumb one. Mostly, it feels like a mistake -- the wrong director matched with the wrong material.

October 2, 2005 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Schreiber] has managed something of a feat ... in spinning a single charming story out of Foer's yarn ball of a novel, which spanned 200 years, multiple stories and various protagonists.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Schreiber effectively incorporates some of the novel's humor, most of which revolves around Alex's amusingly improvisational English, but never comes close to mining the book's true substance or heartbreak.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie that wraps a story of mass murder in a package of whimsy, and prefers to focus on our commonality rather than any collective complicity in the crimes of history.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The lamentable influence of Dave Eggers' oh-so-precious post modern literary devices from "A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius" (2000) are glued all over a bullet proof piece of magical realism...

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source:

What begins in quirks and idiosyncrasy moves into a dark place where profound sadness and profound closure co-exist side by side.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source:

while the film, concerned as it is with the brotherhood of man, is undoubtedly humanist in its philosophy, there are enough shades of grey to cast long shadows over its apparently sunny outlook.

July 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

It is a film that doesn't want us to forget. Or perhaps it is a film that wants a new generation to remember a past which profoundly shapes its present.

September 22, 2006
Christianity Today

...for all its importance as a message picture and for all the subtlety of its filmmaking, the movie never quite feels like it has as much to say as it thinks it does.

March 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comment (1)
Movie Metropolis

First-time director Liev Schreiber proves himself up to the task of conveying comedy and drama with equal aplomb.

March 19, 2006 Full Review Source: Buzzine Magazine
Buzzine Magazine

It's risky material for a first-time director... But Schreiber's involving screenplay and his remarkably assured handling of the material somehow brings it all together into an effective, charmingly offbeat whole.

February 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Una Vida Iluminada ya es suficiente carta de presentación como para esperar más del Liev Schreiber director que del actor.

December 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

...a thoroughly enjoyable, not entirely predictable sentimental comedy/drama...

December 15, 2005

It's also a generous performance, because Wood literally takes a backseat to Hutz's movie-stealing turn as the language-mangling Alex, whose English is 'not so premium'.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Poignant, pensive and profound.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: FilmFocus

A estréia de Schreiber na direçăo é tematicamente ambiciosa e merece aplausos.

November 21, 2005
Cinema em Cena

Pardon my obtuse thinking, but I want to draw a line between this wonderful, bitter sweet film and Little Fish, the much acclaimed Australian film. Both film deal with the presence of the past in our lives; indeed, Everything Is Illuminated (by the past)

November 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

This is a film with a wide range of emotions. It is a film with some laughter and some very affecting moments. It may be a flawed film, but parts are really excellent.

November 12, 2005 Full Review

A strange film that starts out as one thing and transforms into something quite different before it's done.

November 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The film remains mildly worthwhile simply due to its utter weird, sometimes beautiful construction, it adds nothing to the canon of Holocaust films or Jewish themed films

November 2, 2005 Full Review Source:

Schreiber's movie tends to trivialize the novel, not only by abridging the story ... but by subverting Foer's larger point of universal complicity in atrocity.

October 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Severely hampered by a screenplay that waters down much of the book's power, but the blow isn't lethal

October 25, 2005 Full Review Source:

(Alex) Hutz can't get back on screen soon enough if you ask me. He displays enormous range for a first-time actor.

October 22, 2005

Nevertheless, Everything Is Illuminated has a haunting afterglow, one that neither satisfies nor illuminates, but at least keeps the flame alive.

October 22, 2005 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Everything is Illuminated

Broad ethnic humor and mawkish sentiment supposedly held together by Woods' blank expression and very meaningful fades to white.
July 9, 2007

Super Reviewer

A Ukrainian road trip of self discovery begins when a man decides to unravel the family secret that breaks his dying grandmother's heart ... giving us the best (and maybe the only) living with the Holocaust in the third generation story ever. You'll laugh, you'll cry.
August 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

I resisted seeing this before reading the novel on which it's based, but I finally caved when it was on IFC... so glad I did. In the early going, director Liev Schreiber lets the camera and the music do most of the narrating before the perspective shifts to that of Ukrainian guide, Alex. It's unclear exactly whose story this is, which is the point in a way, and it's hard to say more than that without blowing the ending. A quirky, heavy film about finding out where we come from, and one that I really enjoyed. I think once I've read the book, I'll like it even more.
January 3, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Alex: Everything is illuminated in the light of the past.
    – Submitted by Angela R (19 months ago)
    1. Alex: I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is coming to the screen,...

Foreign Titles

  • Alles ist erleuchtet (DE)
  • Tout est illuminé (FR)
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