In The Land of Blood And HoneyWritten by administrator
If you get Angelina Jolie involved in a creative project, chances are she's either going to gravitate towards a theme on love enmeshed in geopolitics, or adopt you. True to form, Ms Jolie's directorial debut centres around a war-torn romance during the Bosnian War…we still aren't sure how many of her cast members she's adopted though.
The film begins with a dance scene in a bar, between Serbian soldier Danijel (Goran Kostic) and Ajla (Zana Marjonovic), a Bosnian Muslim. An explosion eradicates the bar, and we are abruptly propelled forward several months in time, to the start of the Bosnian War. Danijel is now a general in the Serbian army, which engages in acts of terrorism and ethnic cleansing against the Bosnian Muslims. By coincidence, he runs into Ajla, now a refugee captured by the Serbian army, and they slowly rekindle the relationship they had prior to the war, with dire consequences for both.
Can you imagine drinking a mixture of blood and honey? Kinda iffy, isn't it? Likewise, In the Land of Blood and Honey is a heavy, unpalatable filmic concoction, more lecture than narrative, despite its ostensibly romantic premise. Jolie makes some attempts to humanise her characters, but they still tether on the brink of binary stereotypes of man/woman, Serbian/Bosnian Muslim, villain/victim and war/love.
While Jolie's intentions are undoubtedly noble, the film lacks the sensitivity to deal with its subject matter, although it definitely showcases Jolie's aesthetic chops as a director. The film starts as a critique of war atrocities, but ends up feeling more like a crime of passion, as paranoia and ethnic loyalties afflict Danijel's relationship with Ajla. The story itself is stretched too thin, so that the drama itself wanes and sags around the middle, although the cast puts in a convincing effort that transcends the limitations of the script.
While In The Land of Blood And Honey should be applauded for its message – highlighting the atrocities of genocide during the Bosnian War – as a film it is too heavy-handed an endeavour to be truly engaging.
Summary: A strange brew that most will find difficult to swallow.
Rating: 2.5/5 Raphael Lim