Monday, January 23, 2012

Phil sees IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY at the Camera 12-January 21, 2012

Welcome back once again to my movie weekend marathon at the Camera 12 in beautiful Downtown San Jose. The third movie I saw was IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY, the directorial debut by actress Angelina Jolie, who also wrote and produced the film as well.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2012)
Set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War in the 1990s, a Serbian man named Danjiel (Goran Kostic) falls in love with a Bosnian woman named Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) on the brink of a war that tears their world apart. The couple met again several months later, but under very different circumstances: she is a prisoner in a camp that he oversees. There she is degraded, beaten, and raped repeatedly. Despite their ethic backgrounds, their love for one another evolves, but can it stand against the unflinching and horrific war that they are caught up in?

OK, let me start off by saying that his is an ugly film to watch. Let me explain that statement more thoroughly. The film "showcases" the Bosnian War, a war that destroyed an entire country, left it in ruins, and according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) data, "200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes." This was a very ugly and costly war, making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II.

The second reason why this film is ugly to watch is that while Jolie attempts to wrap a Shakespearean-esque love story around a war, the film repeatedly degrades women to the Nth degree. They are mistreated, beaten repeatedly, used as sexual whores and as cover by the soldiers. Even though Danjiel is supposedly in love with Ajla, he still holds her as his captive, threatens her, leaves her to be raped, and then makes "love" to her while he's purging the Muslim virus out of Bosnia. I'm sorry, but I know that film takes place during wartime, but it films like almost a snuff film. I have never seen so many women tortured, raped, and killed in a film before.

The third reason is the controversy surrounding the film. Many people (mostly Serbs) are protesting the film, saying that the film only shows one side of the war and that is spotlights Serbs as evil, heartless villains, thus creating negative reactions on both sides, Christian and Muslim. Also many critics are split down the middle: reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, and the New York Times gave the film praise while The Los Angles Times, the Village Voice, and the New York Daily News gave it harsh and negative reviews. The A.V. Club said in its review that, "Serbian groups have justifiably complained about Jolie’s glib stereotyping of Serbs as racist heavies." In my humble opinion, I have never seen a film garner this much controversy since D.W. Griffith's 1915 film THE BIRTH OF A NATION.

Now you're all might be wondering what I thought of the film? I thought it was OK. Seriously. While it was really well directed and shooting on location gave the film a look of authenticity, the story was a little uneven, the characters could've have been more fleshed out, and it dragged on for too long. The acting was decent, but sometimes it felt too forced, and I know we're supposed to feel sympathetic Ajla. However, the on-screen chemistry between Marjanovic and Kostic just didn't work for me, therefore I couldn't invest myself emotionally into these characters.

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY is a film that will cause many late night arguments and headaches among movie goers and critics. Things got pretty intense at the screening that I attended, so if you wish to see this film, maybe you should rent it when it comes out on DVD.

IN THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

1 comment:

  1. I've been interested in seeing this film for a while. I have to ask, when you say it dragged on too long, how far over do you think it went? Still, I can't wait until it comes out here.
    Thank you for your review love. After I've seen it, I'll let you know my imput. :)