For her directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” Angelina Jolie chose to helm a harrowing, unrelenting drama set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War that highlights the horrors of the ethnic conflict that ravaged the region in the 1990s. To say that it is not a feel-good film is an understatement.
The critics are almost completely divided on whether Jolie’s effort, which scored a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film, is a success. Read on as we sift through the reviews of “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
“Eight years ago Jolie starred in a film, ‘Beyond Borders,’ in which she sashayed around global hot spots in elegant outfits like a fashion model on a shoot. Almost as if in atonement, ‘Blood and Honey’ is nothing like that, quite the contrary, in fact, as it centers on the queasy relationship between a captor, a Serbian army officer responsible for rounding up Muslims or otherwise making them disappear in Bosnia, and a female prisoner, a woman he was interested in prior to the war and is now able to exploit, but also protect, as his ‘personal property.’ ” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“Because Jolie is known for her very public passions, which have progressed from the relative simplicity of the carnal to a globally-oriented expression of the maternal, the relatively sedate tone of ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ is unexpected. The systematic use of rape as a weapon of war is depicted with discretion (the brutality was far more vivid in ‘The Whistleblower,’ another 2011 Bosnian war-themed release). Jolie might show a shrieking woman being carried away by a soldier in the background, but she keeps much of the horror offscreen, at a remove from Ajla. Meanwhile, her scenes with Danijel read as lovers taking pleasure in each other’s company, legs and limbs tangled languidly in the sheets. … No one should be surprised that Angelina Jolie is as capable behind the camera as in front of it; why wouldn’t she be? Here’s an Oscar winner who travels the world on behalf of the United Nations listening to horror stories from refugees; processing pain is a regular sideline for her.” — Mary Pols, Time
“Jolie’s actors [Zana Marjanovic, Goran Kostic, Vanesa Glodjo], all from the former Yugoslavia and unknown in the West except for the superb veteran character actor Rade Serbedzija, give magnetic, raw performances. Their commitment helps us through a movie that is often harrowing, never less than intense but important, one unafraid of moments too many have chosen to forget.” — Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
The Final Word
“Considering the historical, ethical and technical challenges in the mix — a first-time director recreating a war of ethnic cleansing on a bombs-and-bullets level, with charged issues or power and abuse, along with the challenge of shooting in a second language in a foreign land — it is not patronizing to suggest that Ms. Jolie’s first film is an ambitious step forward that promises more, and better, in the future. The film may have more in ambition than it does in execution, but it deserves to be taken seriously as a debut by someone who may yet be as natural and assured behind the camera as she seems to be in front of it.” — James Rocchi, MSN.com
Check out everything we’ve got on “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
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