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In the Land of Blood and Honey

by

Jeff Nelson

I would only recommend this one to fans of Angelina Jolie to see her talent behind the camera.

In the Land of Blood and Honey
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With the film receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and being written and directed by Angelina Jolie, I knew that I had to at least check out In the Land of Blood and Honey. Even though Jolie doesn't act in the feature, it clearly has her fingerprints all over it. A lot of her humanitarian work that she does shines through in this war drama. When I say war drama, I don't mean that lightly. While the events take place during a war, it feels a lot more like a drama than a war movie. There have been a lot of films based upon wars such as this one. In the Land of Blood and Honey happens to take place during the Bosnian War. This is a story of politics, murder, religion, and ethnicity that mixes in a dark romance.

During the Bosnian War, Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, re-encounters Ajla, a Bosnian who's now a captive in the camp he oversees. Their once promising connection has become mysterious as their motives have changed. Similar to most war flicks, In the Land of Blood and Honey follows in the footsteps of trying to be as heartbreaking as possible. In the beginning, a lot of the focus is placed upon men being murdered, women being taken captive and raped, and even infants facing death. As the film progresses, it becomes a lot less about the war and its battles and more about Danijel and Ajla's relationship within the camp. However, it's interesting to see Ajla's internal conflict over having romantic feelings towards somebody dedicated to the cause of slaughtering people that worship her religion and share the same ethnicity. A lot of this isn't shown, but is a covert element that is hinted at many times throughout the movie through Ajla's behavior and expressions. Once the dramatic aspect of the movie begins, there aren't very many battles taking place after. There are short spurs of violence that simply don't have the impact of a longer, more tense battle. I would have been fine with the dramatic portion of the movie, but it soon turns quite melodramatic. As predicted, Danijel's father and fellow soldiers don't agree with him keeping her safe, giving her special treatment, and having a romantic relationship with her. They tell him not to trust her over and over again while he ignores them because they're in love. The remainder of In the Land of Blood and Honey gets a bit repetitive by repeating these sequences numerous times. The ending is most certainly heartbreaking, as a lot of the film is. The dialogue is good and the characters are interesting to where I found myself actually caring what happened to them. There are quite a few issues with In the Land of Blood and Honey when it comes to the core plot and story elements, but it has its strengths as well.

With Angelina Jolie so heavily involved in the movie, I was aware that there isn't much to worry about when it comes to the casting. Zana Marjanovic performs as Ajla. She does a decent job in the role. Marjanovic expresses a lot past her dialogue. Through her body language, expressions, and tone, she's able to display a lot of emotion usually not seen on screen by actors. An example would be the internal conflict I mentioned earlier. She never directly speaks of it, but Marjanovic is able to provide enough for audiences to dissect and form a conclusion. Alongside Ajla is the soldier, Danijel. He's portrayed by Goran Kosstic. He does a great job, as well. His chemistry on screen with Zana Marjanovic is very believable. Kostic delivers a strong performance here. The leads have been utilized well by Director Angelina Jolie.

A lot of actors and actresses that decide to try out directing aren't able to fill that role quite as well as one would imagine. However, Angelina Jolie has proven here that she has talent behind the camera, as well as in front of it. The camera work is good as Jolie has created a well-captured movie. The audio quality is well-balanced, but it won't blow you away like war movies that have audio heard in Saving Private Ryan. The dialogue is mixed to perfection through the center channel. Every word of dialogue comes through the speaker with loud and clean sound. The visual department is solid.

In the Land of Blood and Honey doesn't bring anything new to the table or set any standards. Instead, it's a bit forgettable as it seems to mesh in with the countless other war movies that have been released. One of the largest issues here lies within the script. It isn't able to use both the action and drama to create a cohesive motion picture. The portions that display the war truly are heartbreaking and disturbing, although when it starts to focus on the relationship between the two leads, the movie looses a lot of its steam. Ultimately, Angelina Jolie has delivered mored in the directing department than the screenplay writing. She's a talented actress who pulls some surprises through her talent behind the camera. In the Land of Blood and Honey is average. Nothing great, but not bad. I would only recommend this one to fans of Angelina Jolie to see her talent behind the camera. I just wish that more went into the screenplay.

My Rating = Three Stars

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