THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD - On DemandApril 19, 2012

IFC Films

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (IFC Films).

2 Teenagers Caught in an Ancient Blood Feud…
By Cynthia Kane


In THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD, we find ourselves in rural Albania, post Bosnian War/Kosovo conflict, in other words: now. Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is a teenager, the oldest son, popular and in love with a beautiful classmate. His sister, Rudina (Sindi Lacej) is the eldest daughter, a girl who loves school and learning, and dreams of a life outside the village. Their father, Mark (Refet Abazi) works hard, delivering by horse and wagon bread and whatever else he can provide the neighboring cluster of villages.


Then one day when he and Rudina are making the late afternoon rounds, he’s blocked from the through-road by an unruly neighbor from another clan. This man (Veton Osmani) who not only possesses lands Mark’s family once owned but humiliates him in front of Rudina – in a country where gender is still very much divided, this is unforgivable. When Mark and his brother, their uncle go back to confront the offending neighbor, violence breaks out and that man is killed. Rudina and Nik’s uncle is arrested and their father must go into hiding.


Worse still, the entire family must be sequestered as the old adage, “an eye for an eye” is utterly real in their world. Nik’s father, grandfather and other male members of the family know retribution is a fact. It’s an ancient law of blood feud. It’s derived from the Kanun, a traditional set of Albanian laws, conservative and ancient, still in effect, based on four pillars: honor, hospitality, conduct and clan loyalty.

It’s when you realize this is a film by an American filmmaker,

Joshua Marston, that you actually find yourself astonished.


His last film that hit big was MARIA FULL OF GRACE, some year back, which did incredibly well in festival circuits, was released theatrically via Fine Line and aired on HBO. He had a couple tries within the Hollywood scene that didn’t turn out and has directed a lot of good tv. And now, Marston takes us to another far away place: Albania.

How courageous and unique is this guy? Where does he get this chutzpah? I love that he can tell gripping stories from countries and cultures far from his own, and make them ring absolutely true. As a filmmaker he’s not only a talent, but a shapeshifter.

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