The Forgiveness of Blood
Compelling Albanian drama from the director of Maria Full of Grace
Los Angelino filmmaker Joshua Marston repeats the success of his first film, the award-winning Maria Full of Grace, with a second compelling foreign language drama that unfolds beyond the borders of the First World. Marston’s follow-up to Maria, which was about a young, pregnant Columbian drug mule, also places a young person in a perilous situation that’s largely beyond their control. In this case, it’s a teenage Albanian boy who becomes the focus of a decades-old tradition of resolving an injustice by blood feud.
The boy in question is Nik (Tristan Halilaj), a rural kid who is more interested in girls and motorbikes than he is in taking over his family’s failing business. When an ongoing squabble over land inheritance culminates in his father murdering their neighbour, Nik finds himself subject to an ancient law that allows the victim’s family to claim retribution through the killing of a male heir of the murderer. Nik is, effectively, placed under house arrest at a time in his life when he feels like flying the coup. Meanwhile, with the male members of the household out of action, Nik’s sister Rudina (Sindi Lacej) becomes the head of the house.
Marston, who co-wrote the film with Albanian filmmaker Andamion Murataj, uses this bizarre situation, in which ancient law exists in the modern day, to sharply dramatise the tension between tradition and progress in contemporary Albania. By casting the men of the story as self-destructive and self-obsessed and the women as able and willing, Marston makes a convincing argument for lack of progress being a gender issue. In this respect, The Forgiveness of Blood has, its exotic locale notwithstanding, universal significance. And the strong, naturalistic performances by the cast of non-professional actors, along with the handsome painterly composition of many of the scenes, ought to guarantee a fair degree of audience appeal, too.
Selected release from Fri 17 Aug.