Bottom Line: Angelina Jolie’s directional debut is darkly ambitious and occasionally uneven, but shows promise.
The Gist: Just as a Muslim woman and a Serbian soldier begin to fall in love, war breaks out between their people in troubled Bosnia/Serbia in the 1990s. As the Serbian forces begin their campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” the soldier finds himself able to protect the woman he still desperately needs. But what is protection, what is love, what is exploitation, and can love even exist in such circumstances?
Jolie was ambitious in the subject and filming of this movie, which is in Serbian with English subtitles. It’s a complex and dark story and she does well by not trying to simplify it. Her desire clearly is to explore what makes a decent person do horrible things and she nearly gets there. I was engrossed by the story and did not know where it was leading, which is a sign of good direction. That said, the violence, rape, and general evil are fairly graphically shown and wear one down.
Be Aware: Rated R for sexual scenes including rape, bloody violence, nudity, and language.