(KTSF by Sean Au)

Hollywood superstar and United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie’s international humanitarian works has long been recognized over the years. In her directorial debut, Jolie picks one tough topic to highlight the plight of women in war times.

In April 1992, on the eve of the Bosnian war Serb-Bosnian Danijel (Goran Kostic) met Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), who is a Muslim, in a club. Drowning in mutual attraction, they are thrown in different sides of the war the moment the first explosion happens outside the club.

Police officer Danijel becomes the captain of a Serbian militia while aspiring painter Ajla is taken to temporary barracks to serve the enemy. She is among a group of women taken to the camp, where they are brutally raped into submission.

Danijel tries to use his position in the militia to protect Ajla, but how will this budding romance develop in the shadow of the civil war?

The Bosnia war that lasted three and a half years is the most bloody conflict in Europe since World War II. Under the rule of the former Yugoslavia, people of different ethnicities live in peace. With the breakup of the union, racial tension morphed into an all out civil war that showed evidence of genocide and extensive use of rape as a weapon of violence. It is the first time that rape has been prosecuted under international law as a crime against humanity.

Angelina Jolie tells the love story with a masterful pace, taking time for the scenes to develop, for actors to immerse us in their tale. However, this love story is somewhat awkward with unconvincing transitions in the characters’ emotions.

Jolie succeeds in getting solid performances from her unknown local actors and is impressive in handling some of the urban warfare scenes, though very often, the frequent fancy cuts in editing a slow scene makes viewing extremely distracting. Jolie does not shy away from portraying the violence in war, and for this, respect is due.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Video courtesy of Film District.

(Copyright 2011 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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