Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12-24-11: Jolie Steps Up

IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY (2011) (R) 127 mins. **** D: Angelina Jolie. Goran Kostic, Zana Marjanovic, Rade Serbedzija. (Bosnian/Serbian with English Subtitles)

The budding romance between a Bosnian woman and a Serbian officer is torn asunder by a terrorist bombing during the outset of the Bosnian War. Some time later, through a series of heart-wrenching circumstances she is held prisoner at the camp he now oversees. Their relationship becomes incredibly complex and dangerous now that they find themselves on different sides. Can lovers remains lovers now that they are deemed enemies?

Angelina Jolie directed, wrote and produced this epic about the hardships of war during the Bosnian War. She makes a memorable directorial debut that is very assured and confident. In no one does this look like a film from a first time director. Not only does she make a solid directorial debut, she also wrote the screenplay and she did a fine job there as well. The film never drags and there are times where it goes where you think it will and then there are times where it takes an unexpected turn.

She makes a point to show you how both sides believe they are in the right and the lengths they will go to strike a blow. There are many atrocities committed, many of them off-screen yet quite effective. The dichotomy of the story is that Danijel saves Ajla by keeping her alive yet she is still a prisoner. Is that truly being saved? This is just one of the complex issues the film addresses.

The acting is very good from the two leads. They run the gamut of emotions over the course of the film which covers several years of the Bosnian War. Kostic is particularly good as Danijel, you can see he's torn between his love for Ajla and his duty as an officer.

Jolie is a fine actress and when given the right vehicle she can excel. With one film she has proven she can hold her own with the likes of Foster, Coppola and Streisand.

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