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Review: In The Land of Blood and Honey

I certainly had no idea that one of the world's biggest stars had what it took to be a great director, but I am a believer now. 

Angelina Jolie chose to make her first movie "In The Land of Blood and Honey" on unfamiliar turf -- outside of her comfort zone.  The Angelina Jolie we thought we knew is a movie star and mother who travels the world getting ever more famous while her six kids tag along with nannies in tow.  Jolie is known for doing good works which only make her more visible - too visible say her many critics who are frankly sick of seeing her everywhere, so they are going to be especially surprised to find her dressed down and staying behind the scenes to direct a film she wrote herself.

What blew me away was how good her first feature is.

"In The Land of Blood and Honey " is set back in the 1990's when the old, Communist Yugoslavia broke-up and war broke out between various ethnic groups in the troubled region. The movie begins with a dance between a Serb and a Bosnian Muslim who meet again later under much different circumstances.

In the beginning, he is her jailer and she is a prisoner, yet they seem to grow closer after he saves her from being raped. Other women are not spared and the director doesn't spare us the horrors of a war that killed more than 100,000 and displaced over two million people.

The film gets preachy at times, but I so admired the range of emotions here: joy and anger and so much in between, but most of all I admired Jolie's ambition: directing in a foreign country with a foreign cast. One version of the film in Bosnian and another is in English.

It's a tough film to watch, but for every demand "In The Land of Blood and Honey" makes on the viewer, it offers a reward in return.



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