Everything is Illuminated


Everything is Illuminated

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 119


Audience Score

User Ratings: 59,913
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Movie Info

Tale of a young man's quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a small Ukrainian town that was wiped off the map by the Nazi invasion. What starts out as a journey to piece together one family's story under the most absurd circumstances turns into a surprisingly meaningful journey with a powerful series of revelations -- the importance of remembrance, the perilous nature of secrets, the legacy of the Holocaust, the meaning of friendship and, most importantly, love.

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Elijah Wood
as Jonathan Safran Foer
Oleksandr Choroshko
as Alexander Perchov, Father
Boris Leskin
as Grandfather
Jana Hrabetova
as Jonathan's Grandmother
Stepán Samudovský
as Jonathan's Grandfather Safran
Ljubomir Dezera
as Young Jonathan
Sandra Mikki
as Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
Zuzana Hodkova
as Alex's Mother
as Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
Robert Chytil
as Breakdancer
Jaroslava Sochová
as Woman on Train
Sergej Rjabcev
as Ukrainian Band
Sergei Ryabtsev
as Ukrainian Band Member
Jurij Lemeshev
as Ukrainian Band
Yuri Lemeshev
as Ukrainian Band Member
Pamela Racine
as Ukrainian Band Member
Oleksandr Houtz
as Ukrainian Band Member
Ludmila Kartouská
as Ukrainian Band
Igor Latta
as Old Man at Fair
Eugeni Marandic
as Fair Goer
Orest Tkachyk
as Fair Goer
Orest Tkachuk
as Fair Goer
Eliás Bauer
as Well Digger
Jurij Kokyrc
as Well Digger
Sergej Kapitan
as Well Digger
Sergei Kapitan
as Well Digger
Igor Savivskij
as Well Digger
Jan Filipensky
as Well Digger
Bert Schneider
as Nazi Officer
Lukás Král
as Young Grandfather (Baruch)
Vera Sindelárová
as Young Lista
Mouse on Mars
as Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
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Critic Reviews for Everything is Illuminated

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (35)

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

    Oct 14, 2005 | Rating: 4/5
  • 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.

    Oct 8, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • This isn't a frivolous film or a dumb one. Mostly, it feels like a mistake -- the wrong director matched with the wrong material.

    Oct 2, 2005 | Rating: C
  • [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.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Sep 30, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4

Audience Reviews for Everything is Illuminated

  • Sep 29, 2016
    Plot was draggy but the Gogol Bordello guy (and the dog) stole the show.
    Letitia L Super Reviewer
  • Sep 07, 2015
    An unusual film - part comedy, part drama. Elijah Wood plays a young man who travels to the Ukraine to remember what he could about his Jewish grandfather's escape from the Nazis in WW2. He gets more than he bargained for.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Aug 23, 2012
    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.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 22, 2011
    Alex: I was of the opinion that the past is past, and like all that is not now it should remain burried along the side of our memories.  "Leave Normal Behind." Everything is Illuminated is one of the more odd road movies you will ever see. The film isn't very funny, although it has been dubbed a dramedy. The film was nothing like I expected, but was just as good. Elijah Wood gives a very subtle and good performance as Jonathan and the rest of the cast, which is unknown to me, is very good as well. The movie is unexpectedly weird and is not made in a very straightforward fashion, which I like. It is extremely well made though, with some beautiful cinematography and a score that fits the scenery and story very well. Jonathan is a Jew who collects and everything that somehow relates to his families past. He goes to the Ukraine is search of a woman who saved his grandfathers life during WW2, when their village was invaded and destroyed by the Nazis. The film is funny for about twenty minutes, but for the most part it is just a straight drama and near the end it gets very emotional.  I like this movie because it is about a Jew who's family was affected by WW2 and the Nazis, yet it isn't a Holocaust film. I'm seriously getting sick of watching WW2 related movies about Jews because they are all about the Holocaust and there are so many of them. This manages to be about much more and it also manages to be a extremely beautiful piece of filmmaking.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer

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