In the Land of Blood and Honey

Set in the mid-1990s against the backdrop of genocide in Bosnia- Herzegovina, it details random killing, rapes, the tossing of a baby from a balcony and the use of women as literal human shields. This is not for the faint of heart.

Showing Friday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the film marks the feature directorial debut of “Salt” superstar Angelina Jolie. It certainly bears the stamp of her well-known humanitarian convictions, vividly painting the horrors of “ethnic cleansing.”

The movie can be mortifying with its rough, documentary-style visual sense and ubiquitous sounds of gunfire. Far less successful is the melodrama at its core. Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a young Muslim woman, catches the amorous attention of a Serbian man, Danijel (Goran Kostic, “Of Gods and Men”), at a nightclub.

But these star-crossed lovers don’t get much of a chance. The club is firebombed, and Ajla and Danijel find themselves on opposite sides of the ensuing civil war.

Four months later, Serbian forces are executing Bosnian men and imprisoning Muslim women for slave labor and worse. Among the captives is Ajla, but her captor turns out to be Danijel, now a captain in the Serbian Army thanks to his domineering father, a Serb general (Rade Serbedzija, “X-Men: First Class”).

It’s a strange bird of a setup that flutters between wartime drama and would-be erotica, with a few side trips for clunky dialogue to explain the dynamics of the conflict. At its best, “Blood and Honey” is powerful; at its worst, eye-rolling camp.

Phil Bacharach

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