REVIEW: In the Land of Blood and Honey

7 12 2014

Blood HONEYWhen it comes to civically-minded celebrities these days, Angelina Jolie is probably one of the first people that comes to mind.  She’s well-known as a Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, and her recent efforts to combat sexual violence in wartime earned her an honorary title of Dame from Queen Elizabeth II.

It follows that her debut behind the camera as a director, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” would be closely intertwined with her humanitarian efforts.  But while locked in the grips of the seemingly interminable picture, I couldn’t help but feel like her time and my time would be better spent elsewhere.  Jolie’s time would go, of course, to saving the world (while mine would most likely be put towards shrinking the size of my Netflix queue).

Jolie makes a rather color-by-numbers war film, one that never manages to excite or enrage.  Though it’s clear that she’s stridently railing against the use of war to justify sexual assault against women, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” lacks a call to action into which all that anger can be channeled.

The film drags along for over two hours, giving us little history or commentary on the Bosnian War of the 1990s.  All we’re really told is that there was peace, then – BANG! – it’s gone.  The one element that should have been able to gin up some intensity, a forbidden romance between the opposing sides, is never as frightening or dangerous as it should be.

The $13 million it cost to make “In the Land of Blood and Honey” could, quite frankly, have been put to better use.  The film has noble intentions, but Jolie’s failure to capitalize on any of them makes the enterprise a colossal waste.  C2stars

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