In the Land of Blood and Honey (Au Pays du sang et du miel)

Film, Drama
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Au pays du sang et du miel

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

We’ve seen Angelina Jolie hang out of cars and shoot people, raid tombs in formfitting tops and sometimes appear like the more substantial part of a globally famous twosome. But if her celebrity has brought this tough Bosnian War drama into being, then the whole Brangelina thing can’t be half bad — the trickier proposition will be for those who insist that their tattooed babes remain babes, not directors of skillful political drama. Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey is an admirably complex take on the horror of the rape camps, where Serb militia men performed ritual humiliations upon Bosnian women.

This isn’t material to be traipsed over, nor clopped on earnestly, and Jolie’s original script — yes — finds a deft personalisation to the crisis in delicate artist Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a prisoner, and conflicted Danijel (Goran Kostic, terrific), a Serb officer who once escorted her on a prewar date. Now he keeps Ajla as his exclusive plaything, ostensibly to protect her from worse offenders.

The situation is a nightmare, with Danijel’s hawkish dad (Rade Serbedzija), a general in the militia, demanding stronger stuff from his subordinate son. Occasionally, the movie italicises its points with heavy musical drones, but its tone is remarkably even and concentrated: It makes sense that Jolie excels at stewarding the scenes she usually tears apart onscreen: two people struggling in an emotional death grip, the camera up close.

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