Saturday, 24 March 2012

In the Land of Blood and Honey, dir/wr. Angelina Jolie, st. Goran Kostić, Zana Marjanović, Rade Šerbedžija

It was somehow inevitable that Angelina Jolie's transition from A-lister to UN goodwill ambassador would return full circle to the warm bosom of Tinseltown. Here she presents a competently directed and often engaging story concerning Danijel (Kostić) a Bosnian soldier and Ajla (Marjanović) a Bosnian Muslim, each attracted to each other, yet pulled apart because of their heritage. The constant tension between forging ahead with some semblance of a relationship (she's one of many enlisted as sex-slaves for the Serbian soldiers) versus the compulsion they feel for their conflicted homelands and peoples is the keen edge the story is built on. For the most part, Jolie reins in the Hollywood histrionics with only Gabriel Yared's score giving away the big-budget masquerade - indeed not much time at all is given over to cementing in our minds the credibility of the relationship between Danjiel and Ajla. We assume this is a love worth fighting for, but against the horrors of war, we find ourselves asking a far more unsettling question; was this ever love at all? Nothing will ebb the flow of feeling that In The Land Of Blood And Honey comes off as Jolie's final-year dissertation on her time spent with the UN, but for all its moralising, it's also informed, very watchable and, at times, powerful and intelligent film-making.