This riveting film revolving around the atrocities of the Bosnia-Herzegovina war (1992-1995) is irrefutable proof that Angelina Jolie is a powerful “woman of substance”; she tackles and fearlessly adheres to the horrific genocide (euphemistically coined “ethnic cleansing”) perpetrated against the Muslims by Serbian Nationalists.
The movie commences with a man and a woman connecting and dancing in a local bar; the chemistry between the two is palpable, pulsating with promised intimacy. A beautiful couple, Ajla ( painter, Bosnian Muslim) and Danijel (Bosnian Serb police officer); actors Zana Marjanovic and Goran Kostic give galvanizing portrayals of a pair whose love is doomed to destined truncation.
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” is monumentally ambitious and succeeds a huge percent of the time: the purging of Muslims from their lifetime homes, reminiscent of what the Nazis did to the Jews; deadly incarceration in detention or military camps; the exponential rape and humiliation of women, carnal spoils of war; it is beyond comprehension that victims considered impure, worthy of complete annihilation are ravaged and impregnated by those who quest their erasure from existence. The film excels in this anomaly.
Resonating throughout the movie is Ms. Jolie’s dedication, intelligence and immense desire to awaken the world to a war that was largely ignored by the UN. Every character is scarred by an unnatural loss because of their ethnicity; incredible scene when Ajla is forced to paint the portrait of Danijel’s father a general who despises all Muslins because of the death of his mother and siblings ( a mesmerizing, menacingly evil performance by Rade Serbedzija). At times, flirting with the sensational and melodramatic; these are minor flaws and do not hinder the flow of this well-written tale of doomed lovers, a metaphor for the 200,000 Bosnians killed during this almost four- year- war.
As a writer, producer, director Ms. Jolie is a force to be applauded and encouraged; her humanitarian tools have been appraised and lauded; she is the essence of “to whom much is given, much is expected”. “In the Land of Blood and Honey” my expectations were met and surpassed.