CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Angelina Jolie is ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ in Directorial Debut
CHICAGO – The sorrows of war has been played out too many times in our so-called modern age. The excessively cruel Bosnian war – a three year conflict that introduced the vile term “ethnic cleansing” – is the background of Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”
The Bosnian War began in 1992 and in three short years displaced two million people and killed over 100,000 more. The Serbian army was especially cruel to the Muslim population, and Jolie symbolizes this by showing a split between a Serb and Muslim who were lovers before the war. The camera doesn’t blink in this film, as rape, murder and abject human atrocities are played out in a war that was useless, ideological waste of time. Jolie works from her own very literate script, exposing a horror that happened a relatively short time ago.
Danijel (Goran Kostic) and Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) are first shown enjoying a evening in a night club in Sarajevo. He is Serbian and she is Muslim, but that has not prevented their attraction to each other. An explosion rocks the scene, and the beginnings of what will be the Bosnian War has symbolically begun. Danijel is called into military service, since his father is General Nebojsa Vukojevich (Rade Serbedzija), who leads the ethnic cleansing of all religious and non-Serbian nationalities from Sarajevo.
Danijel and Ajla meet again in the midst of this action, as the troops he commands flushes out the apartment building that she and her sister Lejla (Vanesa Glodjo) reside in. The women are rounded up and subjected to intense cruelties, including the violence of rape. Ajla is spared this punishment by essentially becoming Danijel’s property. Their specious relationship somehow grows in this environment, but Ajla’s urge to escape is ever present. Loyalties, allegiances and the very notion of love is distilled and destroyed through a war torn atmosphere.
Photo credit: FilmDistrict and GK Films