The powerful first film by American Hollywood star about the Bosnian war – which showed at the Berlin film festival – impresses with its minimalism and lack of directorial flourishes.

This article titled “In the Land of Blood and Honey – review” was written by Andrew Pulver, for on Friday 10th February 2012 18.15 UTC

Much has been made of Angelina Jolie’s directing debut – it’s not often that an A-list gossip-magazine stalwart sticks their neck out artistically – and this sombre, powerful, and undeniably gripping film is the result. As a high-profile Hollywood liberal and a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, her choice of material – the mass rapes committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-5 Bosnian war – will perhaps lay her open to the charge of furrowed-brow earnestness, but Jolie’s considered, muscular approach means that she is treading a fine line between gruesome war-vérité and preachy grandstanding. To her credit, she nearly always gets it right, despite occasionally resorting to shorthand to get across complicated political or ideological positions.

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