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The Forgiveness of Blood (2012)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 1,544

My Rating

Movie Info

The powerful and richly textured second feature from Joshua Marston focuses on an Albanian family caught up in a blood feud. Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is a carefree teenager in a small town with a crush on the school beauty and ambitions to start his own internet cafÚ. His world is suddenly up-ended when his father and uncle become entangled in a land dispute that leaves a fellow villager murdered. According to a centuries-old code of law, this entitles the dead man's family to take the life of a

Oct 16, 2012


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February 23, 2012:
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All Critics (64) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (10) | DVD (2)

The film shows us trenchantly that law often lags behind deep-grained custom.

June 19, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
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[A] low-key tale of life in rural Albania.

August 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A memorable portrait of a society and the demands it makes on those caught up in it.

March 30, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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We don't see any blood, or much forgiveness either, but we do witness something far more resonant - a young generation caught between the rock of tradition and the hard place of modernity.

March 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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A heartbreaking Albanian film that counts the toll a family feud takes on all involved.

March 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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The leads -- both non-actors -- hit sharp, natural notes.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
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The fascinating pic is filled with eye-pleasing location shots.

March 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's a searing portrait of a dangerous generational divide that ruins lives, told with a gentle touch.

November 9, 2012 Full Review Source:

Has an earthy whiff of authenticity. But it's seriously lacking in incident and dramatic drive. Admirable work by British cinematographer Rob Hardy, though.

August 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A slow but totally authentic-looking film with an excellent cast, not all of whom are professionals.

August 10, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Joshua Marston hops on another subculture - Albanian blood feuds - and operates sensitively once again in the space between 21st-century ethnographer and enlightened genre director.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian

The plot comes to a quiet boil. Then unfortunately it falls off the stove.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

This dark and dismal Albanian drama has some admirable performances but ultimately, the film itself lacks any real spark and becomes a little self-pitying.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Sticks with you, even though the ending is not entirely satisfying.

August 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

[A] compelling foreign language drama that unfolds beyond the borders of the First World.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: The List
The List

Even if it lacks a stand-out turn it's still a grippingly authentic slice of life.

July 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Runs deepest as a vicious twist on the coming-of-age teen movie and when it offers up small moments within its near-mythic feud. Here, revenge is a dish served hot-blooded. It's the sharp slaps of betrayal and yearnings for the impossible that chill.

July 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Without resorting to didactic exposition, Marston manages to teach us a great deal about Albanian law and custom, and to make this utterly foreign culture explicable to popcorn-munching American moviegoers.

April 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Joshua Marston's follow-up to his stunning Maria Full of Grace debut gets high marks for nice performances and immersion into a remote Albanian village, but narrative deficiencies render it a disappointment.

April 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

...honors the virtues of small-town life as well as the beauty of the Albanian countryside, without being blind to the potentially tragic outcomes of adherence to a rigid code of honor.

March 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

Audience Reviews for The Forgiveness of Blood

An Albanian family is imprisoned in their home in accordance with ancient oral law (the "Kanun") after a killing sparks a blood feud with a rival clan. The Kanun itself, a strange rural anachronism in an age of cell phones and video games, is by far the most compelling character in this exotic but slow-moving drama.
April 6, 2012
Greg S

Super Reviewer

I was enthralled by Joshua Marston's first feature film, "Maria Full of Grace" (2004). So I was very excited to see that he had finally made a second film. (He directed a lot of television during the intervening years.)

But "The Forgiveness of Blood," despite having some wonderful aspects, is not going to be described by anyone as enthralling. It is set in present-day Albania. (Marston's ability to cross cultures continues to amaze.) A feud develops between two families, leading to a murder. The man who commits the murder disappears, and his wife and children have to go into seclusion.

The two teenagers in the family, magnificently played by two young Albanian actors, are the center of the film. We get to experience the ordeal for the most part through these teenagers' eyes, a boy and a girl. I felt like I learned a lot about Balkan culture, and I did feel emotionally engaged with the characters.

But the story just does not have enough content. There aren't enough dramatic elements. Not enough happens. It feels to me that Marston needed to spend more time developing the story before starting the film shoot. I wish he had. There are masterpiece elements in "Forgiveness" that lie to some degree inert on the screen because of the under-developed story.
March 18, 2012
Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

In "The Forgiveness of Blood," Mark(Refet Abazi) has a running argument with Sokol(Veton Osmani) about taking a short cut over his land that used to belong to Mark's grandfather. One day, that erupts into bloodshed that leaves Sokol dead, Mark's brother Zef(Luan Jaha) in jail and Mark on the run. In order to avoid reprisals from Sokol's family, Mark's house goes into lockdown, making a special point to keep Mark's teenaged son Nik(Tristan Halilaj) home from school. That leaves Rudina(Sindi Lacej) to take care of the family business of delivering bread every day.

"The Forgiveness of Blood" is not so much suspenseful, as it is filled with dread, proving that in a state of siege you don't need zombies or Daleks to pull it off. And in most scenarios like this, the movie would belong to Nik but surprisingly not in this case, as while he certainly has a right to complain about a situation that could possibly drag on for years and not of his own making, he is also more than a little petulant at the same time, even managing to make matters worse at one point.(To the movie's vast credit, it does not show the central incident, not allowing the viewer to assign blame, even though otherwise we see events almost exclusively from the point of view of Mark's family.) No, it is Rudina who rises to the occasion, even showing some serious entrepreneurial skills. That works in favor of the movie gently subverting the patriarchy, this one in Albania where horsecarts and smart phones co-exist on unpaved roads.
November 22, 2013
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Review soon
October 16, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Rudina: At least in prison, you would be safe.
    – Submitted by Nick L (2 years ago)
    1. Nik: Remember that kid that stayed inside for six years?
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Rudina: Is that what you're wearing?
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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