Saturday, February 25, 2012

Angelina Jolie: In the Land of Blood and Honey

In the Land of Blood and Honey, GK Films, 2012.

With the gilded dexterity of a seasoned pro, actress Angelina Jolie makes an impressionable directorial debut with the propulsive Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Eschewing Hollywood convention for a more naturalistic approach, she has refreshingly chosen to shoot her film in Croatian and with actors who are Bosnian/Serbian and therefore unfamiliar to Western audiences. Zana Marjanovic is brilliant as Ajla, our put-upon heroine. Jolie basically asks her to carry the atrocities of this war on her shoulders, and she pulls it off astoundingly. Goran Kostic is also top notch, providing an inpenetrable portrait of cultural masculine identity. Their star-crossed lovers afford Jolie a classical cinematic framework within which she explores the fissures in class, gender and politics, which have torn the region apart.

This tale is affecting, and well-told. Jolie's script is precise and poetic. As the plot unfolds we become entrenched in the escalating horror. Rade Serbedija makes for a despicable villain, his eyes surveying slyly the damage around him. Jolie's utilization of the great composer Gabriel Yared is inspired. The lush score he crafts for her film is moving.

Through her wandering lens, the director tries to bring order to the disorder of war. Her inspirations appear to be Lean, Pontecorvo and Spielberg. In finding her own voice as a storyteller, the world has found an exciting new auteur.

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