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No consensus yet.
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All Critics (78)
| Top Critics (36)
| Fresh (43)
| Rotten (35)
Overall, Jolie has nothing to be embarrassed about and much of which to be proud with this movie. Even in moments where the film doesn't quite work, she shows ample evidence of ambition and a discerning director's eye.
The film's key twist seems a bit underdeveloped, but there's no avoiding the horror the film captures. Even in modern times, what monsters men can be.
It's a tough, clear-eyed look at a ghastly ethnic war, with an admirably wide perspective that affords compassion for both sides.
With its broad strokes, this invitation to an important discussion is hard to ignore, but the blood and honey on the table is an unpalatable mix.
Although Jolie's good intentions are easy to admire, those characters are hard to believe, and the bloody narrative has an oddly bloodless effect.
Jolie crafts a watchable, engaging drama set amid the Bosnian War, proof that she has paid attention during all of these years in front of the camera and has been able to translate that into some skill behind it.
[An] atrocious script and misguided approach to the subject matter render In the Land of Blood and Honey odious.
In The Land Of Blood And Honey is a compelling story that is enhanced by the well-researched portrayal of the politics behind the conflict and the ways that people were made to cope.
...not incompetently made, and it suggests that Jolie might have a real shot at someday being a very good director. But it leaves us with a feeling so queasy and uncomfortable one hesitates to give it voice: Could she really think this dynamic is sexy?
Jolie never shies away from the horrors of war, with scene after scene of ethnic cleansing and war atrocities, but it suffers from an emotionally distant script and some weird editing that make the film's languid pace even more noticeable.
It's a good movie on a great subject, even if it is well short of a great film.
Jolie wants to tell a tragic love story amid the ruins, between a Serb and a Muslim, but she can never get a bead on who these two people are or how they feel about each other.
It is admirable the dedication of Angeline Jolie to something she believes in so ardently, but even though her movie is well directed and holds a strong impact in its intended message, the characters are poorly developed and remain a puzzle until the very end.
Here is another fine example of "what the heck were the nay-sayers watching?" This movie was VERY well done. I think Angelina Jolie deserves mega praise for this story. She is a beautiful and fine actress, but this story shows a great empathy for her fellow man, and a fine-toned intellect, too. It shows the absolute horror of war, and the devastation to human life caught in the middle. No happily ever after ending here, folks....I personally would be very interested in seeing what else Angelina comes up with. She apparently has many talents...
Everything about this film feels false and inept, even though there is a certain admirable technical proficiency on display. The actors are strong and Jolie certainly has potential behind the lens, but the film is kind of a mess and doesn't do it's subject matter, cast, or crew justice. A thematic misfire sure, but a well made one.
The Bosnian War: A Love Story?
Before I begin, I would like to preface this review by saying that I am in no way an expert on the Bosnian War. So, before I receive any hate mail from angry Bosnian's or Serbian's about how I am just a stupid American who is criticizing events that I didn't live through, please realize that I am not criticizing Bosnian's or Serbians or war tactics or cultural differences. My job is to criticize FILMS!!!
Angelina Jolie hates Serbians, there I said it! I am joking of course, she loves all races. Angelina Jolie (Salt) receives her first writing and feature film directing credits here in "In the Land of Blood and Honey"; a film that is surprisingly almost entirely in Serbian and Bosnian. There has been some controversy (at least there was for a few months) about this actually being an idea Jolie stole and called her own. But after all is said and done, whether or not she came up with the original idea will be the least controversial aspect to arise from this film. Starring Zana Marjanovic and Goran Kostic, it is not the acting which drags this film down, it is the storyline Jolie chooses to focus on instead of a straight forward war story. Chronicling the systematic encampment, rape and slaughter of the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) ethnic group during the Bosnian War sounds like some very compelling and powerful material, and "In the Land of Blood and Honey" would have been compelling and powerful, if that was what the movie was about. Instead we get a love story, set in the Bosian War between a high ranking male Bosnian Serb soldier (Kostic) named Danijel and his female Bosniak prisoner (Marjanovic) named Ajla, and a very unsatisfying love story at that. In fact the few instances when the story turns its focus from Ajla to her sister, who has not been captured and is attempting to build a resistance against the Serbs, the film becomes far more interesting and gritty. So much so, that an argument could be made about how Ajla's sister would have made a more realistic and compelling focus for this full length feature film than Ajla herself. Furthermore, without Ajla's sister's subplot, "In the Land of Blood and Honey" is a war film that only lightly dabbles in the brutality of war for less than a third of the movie and then it's back to the flimsy love story. In the end, Jolie attempts to address the political, brutal and cultural elements that make war so complex, but spends far, far, far too much time telling the remedial Romeo and Juliet love story between Danijel and Ajla. I am not against love stories by any means, but to have an average love story set during a fairly recent war, where genocide, rape, and political cover-ups took place, the love story aspect tends to take away (or dumb down) every other important point the film is attempting to make. This is kind of like having a hardcore love story in "Schindler's List". It just doesn't work.
What will undoubtedly anger mass audiences the most: Because of the way Jolie structures her film, the tone inevitably does come off as one sided in the same way the aforementioned "Schindler's List" does. Which in and of itself isn't bad, i.e. Nazi's are horrible people. But because "In the Land of Blood and Honey" is a far less developed film, the "all Serbian's (except for one) are inherently ruthless and cruel" mentality this film encourages, comes off as unnaturally skewed especially to those (like me) who are unfamiliar with the in-depth events of the Bosnian War. Now I am not saying that the Serbs in this film, who are shown ethnically cleansing a mass group of Muslims, were not horrible people, BUT the way this movie presents an entire race (The Serbs) as irrational and blood-thirsty, could be perceived as quite one sided. And for that reason, I can see many audiences finding this the most off-putting aspect of "In the Land of Blood and Honey". But then again, I am not a critic of wars.
Final Thought: I will give Jolie some credit here for manufacturing some brilliant shots (mostly the war scenes) that work to show her talent behind a camera. But much as Jolie tries, it seems as if she knows more about the logistics of a love story than about creating a compelling war film. Not to say that "In the Land of Blood and Honey" isn't a watchable effort, and does minimally redeem itself in the final two scenes of the film, BUT how this film was nominated for a Golden Globe only proves that the Hollywood Foreign Press will do anything to hang out with big stars.
Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
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