Rich Cohen and Jonas Fredwall Karlsson spotlight first-time director Angelina Jolie, with her decidedly un-Hollywood cast.
If you were a normal person who also happened to be the biggest movie star on the planet—sexy, tabloid fodder, and all that—and decided to write and direct a film, it would probably be, the first time out anyway, a romantic comedy, a gay romp, spirited fare of the not-too-taxing variety. Of course, if that were the case, you would not be Angelina Jolie, who for her debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, has taken on the very nature of love and war: the human condition in general, Bosnia’s in particular, where one day it was cafés and evenings out and the next it was massacres and human shields. Not Nora Ephron territory, in other words, or even Steven Spielberg territory. Jolie has instead entered the realm of Mr. Tolstoy, where excited youths ponder questions like “What is a man?” The film features a cast of relatively unknown actors from the region, each with his or her own connection to the conflict that racked the Balkans from 1990 until 1995, among them Vanessa Glodjo, who spent those years dodging sniper fire, and Goran Kostic, whose father, as an officer in the Serb Army, was on the other side of the riflescope. “It’s important to talk about the war, about our emotions,” says Nikola Djuricko. “It’s something we have to do more often.” Angelina, once the Hollywood wild child, has built a meditation on love and hate from the shattered glass of a terrible struggle.