Whenever actors/actresses decide to get behind the camera, it can often go very right... or very wrong. For all the Clint Eastwood-style success stories out there, there are still plenty whose directorial debuts fade into obscurity almost immediately upon release (ex. David Duchovny and his largely-derided House of D).
Angelina Jolie is going the route that most screen stars-turned-filmmakers do: producing a serious drama with awards potential, in the form of this winter's In the Land of Blood and Honey. Does the popular starlet look to have a winner on her hands, based on the official U.S. trailer?
It's certainly possible, seeing how In the Land of Blood and Honey wisely examines a much larger-scale event (the 1990s Bosnian civil war) through the lens of a relationship between civilians from opposite sides of the conflict. Jolie's film looks to mix a more complex variation on the standard Romeo and Juliet-style "forbidden romance" with more of a gritty war drama - which could work out nicely, if executed correctly.
Here is the official synopsis for Jolie's film (which she both wrote and directed):
"In the Land of Blood and Honey" is a melancholy drama set during Bosnia’s 1992-95 civil war and follows a Christian Serb (Goran Kostic) and a Bosniak woman (Zana Marjanovic) whose lives are torn apart when violence flares between ethnic and religious groups.
Now check out the official In the Land of Blood and Honey trailer below:
Outside of Rade Šerbedžija (who was recently cast as the villain in Taken 2), you almost certainly didn't recognize any faces in the preview above. That's because Jolie reportedly cast (by and large) Bosnian locals, including many people who were actually children that survived during the country's civil war in the '90s. Likewise, she reportedly shot In the Land of Blood and Honey simultaneously in English and the cast's native language - so that (presumably) U.S. moviegoers will end up watching a cut that does not require them to read subtitles (or the film's cast to be dubbed).
That's an interesting approach which will (hopefully) allow In the Land of Blood and Honey to feel all the more like an authentic and genuinely-touching semi-docudrama about Bosnia's troubled history. Stylistically, the films looks more than competent, with Jolie's Oscar-winning director of photography Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves, Apocalypto) going with now customary hand-held camerawork during the violent war scenes - and using a steadier hand to shoot the more intimate moments between Kostic and Marjanovic's natural enemies-turned-lovers.
Overall consensus? In the Land of Blood and Honey looks like a film worth checking out - even though Jolie won't actually be making an onscreen appearance.
In the Land of Blood and Honey will be released in U.S. theaters on December 23rd, 2011.