Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Forgiveness of Blood

Joshua Marston’s follow-up to his stunning Maria Full of Grace debut gets high marks for nice performances and immersion into a remote Albanian village, but narrative deficiencies render it a disappointment.

Feb 23, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1313208-Forgiveness_Blood_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Joshua Marston made a stunning debut with the Oscar-nominated 2004 Maria Full of Grace, a skillfully wrought drama about a young Colombian woman who becomes a drug “mule” crossing the border into the U.S. to earn money for her family. The territory was familiar (the New York City area), but it was more than the familiar terrain that made the film so appealing and critically respected.

Marston’s second effort, The Forgiveness of Blood, is another stab at challenging material. The remote, barren Albanian locales may be alien, but it’s the featherweight story that alienates in this less satisfying sophomore slump.

The hook is sturdy: a blood feud involving two families at war over perceived betrayals and sins of dishonor. Hero Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is a fun-loving small-town teenager with a crush on a local beauty and ambitions to start his own Internet café. But then his father (Refet Abazi) and uncle get into a dust-up over access to a road controlled by Sokol (Veton Osmani); again, protection of/reverence for property reveal their sacred, primitive roots since the caveman days. When the confrontations lead to murder, the feud escalates.

A centuries-old Albanian law still in place today allows the victim’s family to take the life of a male from the offending family as retribution. With Nik’s uncle in jail and his father in hiding, the boy becomes the main target. Confined to his home, he bonds more closely with younger sister Rudina (Sindi Laçej), who takes over the family business of selling bread to the community, and with little brother Dren (Elsajed Tallalli). The tension reaches its peak when Nik walks over to the enemy’s house to try to achieve a peace.

Forgiveness interests because it convincingly presents a place and culture rarely seen on films or even in newscasts. Adding to the authenticity are the wholly committed nonprofessional local actors Marston has engaged.

In spite of the film’s video look, the director deserves credit for capturing so remote a region and securing access to its people and earning their trust. Still, The Forgiveness of Blood reminds that story, left by a dusty roadside, is what really matters.



Film Review: The Forgiveness of Blood

Joshua Marston’s follow-up to his stunning Maria Full of Grace debut gets high marks for nice performances and immersion into a remote Albanian village, but narrative deficiencies render it a disappointment.

Feb 23, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1313208-Forgiveness_Blood_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Joshua Marston made a stunning debut with the Oscar-nominated 2004 Maria Full of Grace, a skillfully wrought drama about a young Colombian woman who becomes a drug “mule” crossing the border into the U.S. to earn money for her family. The territory was familiar (the New York City area), but it was more than the familiar terrain that made the film so appealing and critically respected.

Marston’s second effort, The Forgiveness of Blood, is another stab at challenging material. The remote, barren Albanian locales may be alien, but it’s the featherweight story that alienates in this less satisfying sophomore slump.

The hook is sturdy: a blood feud involving two families at war over perceived betrayals and sins of dishonor. Hero Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is a fun-loving small-town teenager with a crush on a local beauty and ambitions to start his own Internet café. But then his father (Refet Abazi) and uncle get into a dust-up over access to a road controlled by Sokol (Veton Osmani); again, protection of/reverence for property reveal their sacred, primitive roots since the caveman days. When the confrontations lead to murder, the feud escalates.

A centuries-old Albanian law still in place today allows the victim’s family to take the life of a male from the offending family as retribution. With Nik’s uncle in jail and his father in hiding, the boy becomes the main target. Confined to his home, he bonds more closely with younger sister Rudina (Sindi Laçej), who takes over the family business of selling bread to the community, and with little brother Dren (Elsajed Tallalli). The tension reaches its peak when Nik walks over to the enemy’s house to try to achieve a peace.

Forgiveness interests because it convincingly presents a place and culture rarely seen on films or even in newscasts. Adding to the authenticity are the wholly committed nonprofessional local actors Marston has engaged.

In spite of the film’s video look, the director deserves credit for capturing so remote a region and securing access to its people and earning their trust. Still, The Forgiveness of Blood reminds that story, left by a dusty roadside, is what really matters.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

PK
Film Review: PK

An alien trying to return home tangles with religious authorities in a low-key Bollywood message drama. More »

A Small Section
Film Review: A Small Section of the World

Worthy but uninvolving documentary about the coffee-producing women of Costa Rica. More »

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here