Friday, January 20, 2012


Still from In the Land of Blood and Honey
Many curious eyes will be fixed upon Angelina Jolie's written and directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. I might even go out on a limb to say that perhaps over-ambitious, she delivers ably. Set during the Bosnian War in the '90s, we see an unconventional Love Story between both Ajla (Zana Marjanović) and Danijel (Goran Kostić), held together during War and forever divided by their ethnic differences.  

Ajla, of Muslim descent, is captured and contained at a Rape Camp during the Bosnian-Serbs' Ethnic Cleansing regime.  She falls in love prior to the War with Danijel, a Serbian Soldier and subsequently one of her Captors, raising a few eyebrows among his peers and Father, Nebojsa (Rade Šerbedžija). Although Danijel vows to protect Ajla secretly, we see the impact of circumstance on their relationship as their true allegiances to one another and their beliefs are tested to the extreme by torture.  We see all sorts of horrible things happen, including the rape and humiliation of any non-Serbian Women, to their being used as Human Shields at battle - a brutal side to a Story seldom acknowledged in Hollywood.

Although In the Land of Blood and Honey struggles a bit early in its tone with a Script that reads almost too text book-like and perhaps one too many coincidences to be fully believable, Jolie masters the art of suspense and this is palpable as the Story progresses.  For much of the latter part of the Film, I was overcome with the agonizing feeling that something is terribly wrong for Ajla nor Danijel. Jolie's efforts in humanizing both sides of the complex struggle are respectable, but I for one would have gotten more from this had she explored the emotional element of Loss a bit more here.  The costs paid by Ajla and Danijel are great, including Friends and Family but do we ever get a full grasp of this?

That being said, there are a number of magical moments which Jolie brings-out and captures between the Hero and Heroine in their tumultuous relationship. And if you look closely enough, you just might see a brief Cameo from Brad Pitt as a Soldier down.  Will this be the type of Movie that appeals to Fans of Mr. & Mrs. Smith? Not likely, but Jolie is fully aware of that.

Alliance Films releases In the Land of Blood and Honey on Friday, January 20, 2012 in Toronto and the following week in Vancouver and Montreal.