In the Land of Blood and Honey: Inter-Religious Love and Sex Slavery Gone Wild
If any of Angelina Jolie's films was going to open her up to criticism, it's In the Land of Blood and Honey, her directorial debut, in which she pulled no punches, showing war, rape and inter-religious relationships. So how did the critics rate it? Jake Coyle, AP's film critic, gave it a lukewarm two stars out of four, calling her touch "heavy-handed" and "blatant" but crediting her with raising the issues at the heart of the film.
"Throughout the film, Jolie puts politics ahead of story and character, blatantly imposing a message — an altruist message, but a message nonetheless — on the film. And the result is a movie whose narrative feels like a fictionalised United Nations presentation," he writes.
Jolie, who also wrote the screenplay, doesn't really expand the movie beyond the lovers and it suffers as a result. There is Ajla's sister [Vanesa Glodjo], who lives underground, and Danijel's cruel father, Gen Nebojsa Vukojevich [Rade Serbedzija, in the film's best performance], who expresses the historical prejudices underlying the war.
"But Jolie deserves plenty of credit here. There are far worse things than using one's celebrity to bring attention to the dangers of pacifism in the face of war crimes and ethnic cleansing. With the exception of a handful of visual missteps [a shot of shadows dancing on the wall, long fades to black], the film is nicely shot and atmospheric. Instead of finding a way to dramatise international inaction or pursing answers that might help explain genocide, In the Land of Blood and Honey makes its case only in the illustration of extreme, intolerable violence. Yes, there is power in simply showing these acts, but they eventually have a ring of calculation."