It’s interesting to see an actor make the transition from being in front of the camera into being behind the camera. The film In the Land of Blood and Honey is the first film by Angelina Jolie as director and screenwriter. This film is about the Bosnian war and it focuses on two people who begin in romance but once the war starts end up on different sides of the conflict. It’s a film that explores many of the important points of the conflict from both sides. It’s also of note that it’s in the language of Bosnia, so it’s a subtitled affair at the cinema.
The film focuses on Ajla and Danijel, two people who are a nice date on a night in 1992. That date is interrupted by a bomb blast at the club they are at. This is beginning of the conflict for the viewer. Danijel becomes an officer of the Serb army while Ajla, Muslim is taken captive in a rape camp that Danijel oversees. During the course of the film the relationship with Danijel and Ajla changes and gets more complicated as the year of conflict and imprisonment weighs on both of them.
This film is not a very fun affair at all. The film follows most Ajla and her struggles throughout the war. It never really lets up on the heavy weight of it all throughout the whole thing. Throughout the film it tries to explore some of the other characters like Ajla’s sister or soldiers in Danijel’s troop. None are really explored that well as fully rounded characters.
The direction is pretty good for the most part. The action and scene are pretty easy to follow and the camera doesn’t move or jitter or any silly tricks you see in some films to make it â€œrealâ€. The film does have look like a milky glaze is awash of it the entire time, makes it feel almost like a fog is over everything.
The performances are all mostly good and don’t take you out of the picture at all. Zana Marjanovic plays Ajla and does a great job in this. You understand her character and motivations the entire time. Goran Kostic plays Danijel who has the hard job of trying to make you empathize with his character. A pretty good effort because you like him but the actions his character does are unredeemable.
The film also at times drags on a bit too long. It seems trying to fit in a little bit of time from each year of the war was a bit too much and not needed to get across the themes and point of the film. In the end though for a debut film for a first time director it’s a pretty good piece of work. Angelina Jolie might be sometime to watch for behind the camera soon as much as she is in front of the camera. She has an interesting voice and hopefully we’ll see more.
Final Grade is a C+
Originally published on Reel Film News