I'm pretty sure Angelina Jolie verily believes she has told an incredible story about horrendous events during a terrible time in history. I am pretty damned certain this is not some egotistical self-serving project that many Hollywood stars might take on to improve their image.


No, I'm fairly positive that Ms Jolie created "In the Land of Blood and Honey" for the same reason she became an activist for refugees and formally appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). No, this is a project done in sincerity by Ms Jolie. That's probably what is most disappointing about it.

I had a chance to see the chance to see Juanita Wilson's film "As If I Am Not There" at the Phoenix Film Festival" last April. Both films are on the same topic; both have moments of graphic detail. However, Ms Wilson's kept the story more realistic while Ms Jolie somehow turned perpetual rape into a romance story.


With "As If I Am Not There" has a female teacher who winds up in a small Bosnian town during the 1990's Bosnian War. When Serbian soldiers overrun the town the kill the men and save the young women for sex slaves. And not the fun spanky, spanky sex slave, but the abusive do-it-or-die sex slave including lost of pain and suffering.


It was very graphic but wound up winning the festival's World Cinema best Picture award. It is now the official entry for Ireland in the Oscars.


That's not the case with "In the Land of Blood and Honey". This is a film that won't even win it's weekend box office.

Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) is a Bosnian Muslim painter. Her boyfriend Danijel (Goran Kostic) is a Bosnian Serb officer who appears to be smitten with her. In fact the film opens with them dancing on what seems to be a date.


The evening is rudely interrupted by a bomb that kills or injures nearly everyone in the hall but them. Serbian soldiers rush in and remove her to join the other younger Muslim women so she can be publicly raped. However, straight out of Hollywood, Danijel comes and saves her day just seconds before she is to be raped.


Their reunion is vague at best as he carries on a relationship with her as if she is his prisoner but we are to presume she is a captive forced to be with him.

There is the foreboding shadow of Danijel's father - a Serbian general - that is probably the reason why the relationship is blurred. But it is clearly the story that leaves us still confused.


Whereas Wilson dared to relate the brutality of the occupation, Jolie chose to soften it with an improbably love story. That this is her first directorial feature is no excuse; in fact that would be more the reason to be bolder.


"In the Land of Blood and Honey" gives us pretty strong performances that are overshadowed by a weak narrative. Although it has glimpses of Angelina Jolie's convictions it lacks the boldness of some of her fictional characters.   -- GEOFF BURTON