In the Land of Blood and Honey

Directed By: Angelina Jolie

Starring: Goran Kostić, Zana Marjanović, and Rade Šerbedžija

I don't ever go into a war movie expecting to come out a happy camper.  With a wartime romance though, I wasn't quite sure how I'd come out feeling.  After seeing Angelina Jolie's directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey though, I can tell you that they're just as depressing.  With all the rape, torture, and murder I've witnessed during this film, I need a drink with a little kick.

The film centers on Muslim woman Ajla (Zana Marjanović) and Serb soldier Danijel (Goran Kostić).  They meet one night in a club.  They start dancing, and sparks fly.  As the two begin to fall for one another, the club is bombed.  They somehow survive, but a new day has been marked in Sarajevo.  The Bosnian War has begun.

As war ravages Sarajevo, Ajla is captured by the Serb forces and taken to a camp.  There, rape is a routine, commonplace terror for the captive women.  Danijel, son of General Nebojša Vukojević (Rade Šerbedžija), serves as one of the senior officers in the Serbs' armed forces.  It just so happens that he is staying at the same camp where Ajla has been taken captive.  He sees that she's there and decides to protect her from some of the atrocities that the other women must endure.  They soon become romantically involved, but the ongoing conflict makes any real relationship impossible at this point.  Having found each other by fate, they're now being pulled apart by fate.

In the Land of Blood and Honey is an impressive directorial debut for actress Angelina Jolie.  With this gritty, somber film, Jolie takes us on an emotional rollercoaster.  As we witness murder after murder and rape after rape, we also see a budding romance.  The movie has undertones of Shakespeare's tragic comedy Romeo and Juliet.  We have two lovers of different backgrounds who are torn apart because their people are at war.  It's certainly tragic, but there's nothing comical about the movie.  The film is powerful.  It's moving.  It's sobering.

There's a certain authenticity in Jolie's film that can't be denied.  The cast consists of actors from parts of former Yugoslavia.  They all lived through the horrors of the Bosnian War, and Jolie leverages their experiences to give the movie an accurate look and feel.  With Jolie's vision, the scars that are forever etched in the actors' memories are now etched in ours as well, to an extent.  Obviously, the film cannot truly encapsulate the atrocities that the Muslims, Croats, and Serbs witnessed during that time, but Jolie gives us a little slice of their horror.

Up to this point in her career, Angelina Jolie has been an action star and a sex symbol.  As she starts to approach the big 4-0, becoming a successful actor-director is not a bad move.  Look at Clint Eastwood.  As an action star, his career ended decades ago when he was a much younger man.  As a director, he's still going strong well into his 80s.  By making this move, Jolie is giving her career a longevity it may not have otherwise had.  Let's be real.  Old people are anything but sex symbols.  In the Land of Blood and Honey definitely puts Jolie's career on the right path.  This powerful film gets a 0.03% rating.