I'm writing this about an hour after watching Marc Forster's high-toned adaptation of the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, but already the movie's Oscar-bait spell is beginning to dissipate. David Benioff (25th Hour) deserves credit for the well-proportioned script, which manages to cover 22 years in the lives of a proud Afghan businessman and his feckless son while encompassing the Soviet invasion, the family's exile to California, and the rise of the Taliban back home. But the powerful themes of loyalty, shame, and redemption tend to be muted by the same glass-table treatment Forster brought to Finding Neverland, not to mention the narrative contrivance (an evil kid who magically appears two decades later as an evil adult) and overripe imagery (kites sailing through the limitless blue sky). I'd recommend this, but only if you liked The English Patient. PG-13, 120 min.