IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY – Review by Susan Granger

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Angelina Jolie acquits herself admirably as writer/director in this controversial, cross-cultural love story set amidst the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s:

“I wanted to make a film that would express, in an artistic way, my frustrations with the international community’s failure to intervene in conflicts in a timely and effective manner. I also wanted to explore and understand the Bosnian War, as well as broader issues, such as women in conflict, sexual violence, accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the challenge of reconciliation. It was the deadliest war in Europe since W.W. II, but sometimes people forget the terrible violence that happened in our time, in our generation, to our generation.”

Danijel (Goran Kostic) is a blond, blue-eyed Bosian Serb policeman, serving under his brutish father, General Nebojsa Vukojevich (Rade Serbedzija), while dark-haired Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) is a Bosnian Muslim artist. Their romantic relationship is just blossoming before an explosion rocks the café in which they are dancing and violence erupts, separating them on opposite sides of the political conflict. While Danijel’s deeply conflicted, Ajla’s evicted from the apartment she shares with her sister, Lejla (Vanese Glodjo), and Lejla’s infant child – amid a barrage of vicious rapes and cold-blooded killings – and incarcerated in a military camp, where Danijel makes her his prisoner/mistress.

Within this “Romeo and Juliet”-inspired romance, Jolie fails to provide any depth of understanding about the reasons for the war, preferring, instead, to rely on Gen. Vukojevich’s self-justifying explanation that Serbs stood up to Hitler and prevented the Turks from conquering Europe centuries ago, and it’s now their responsibility to prevent the Muslims from taking over. Instead, Jolie chronicles in grim, grisly, graphic detail the horrors committed by Serbs against Muslim neighbors. English-language news broadcasts clarify what’s occurring, while the rest of the film is in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” is a brutal 6, an impressively serious project from a humanitarian activist.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.