What Angelina Jolie Really Wants to Do Is…
I recently asked a woman (not my girlfriend) if she wanted to see Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. “No,” she responded. “I don’t see rape movies.” I can certainly understand her objection—and I wonder if similar reasons might account for the underwhelming box office returns of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (sure, millions of women read the book, but seeing the story’s sexual assault depicted on film is a different proposition) as well as Martha May Marcy Marlene and Pedro Almodovar’s skin-crawling The Skin I Live In.
It’s true, there are a couple of brutal rapes in Blood and Honey, which is set during the Bosnian war of the ’90s, when it was estimated that 50,000 women were violated. But given that caveat, I’d urge everyone with a strong-enough stomach to see this fim. It’s one of the year’s toughest-minded and most urgent dramas.
Unlike the execrable Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Blood and Honey doesn’t take a real-life tragedy and use it as a jumping-off point for a quixotic, whimsical quest. Without trivializing it, Jolie (who also wrote and produced the film) brings a story of mass murder down to an individual human level. It’s the tale of two lovers on opposite sides of the ethnic divide—a Serb soldier (the charismatic Goran Kostic) and a Muslim painter (the radiant Zana Marjanovich). The morally conflicted captain also clashes with his father, a genocidal general played by veteran big-screen bad guy Rade Serbedzija (Mission: Impossible II).
Like her husband Brad Pitt, as well as his Oceans 11-13 costar George Clooney, Jolie cannily uses her celebrity to draw attention to important causes. And it’s working: I never would’ve seen a subtitled (don’t be fooled by the English dubbing in the trailer), star-free drama about the Serbo-Croatian conflict if Shiloh’s mom hadn’t made it. But I’m glad I did. I hope you will be, too.
Will you see In the Land of Blood and Honey? And how do you feel about the depiction of rape in movies?