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The Forgiveness of Blood Review

By David Kempler

Forgiveness is Nowhere to be Seen

Joshua Marston made his directorial debut with "Maria Full of Grace" and it marked him as a talent to watch. His much anticipated second feature, "The Forgiveness of Blood", fails to live up to its predecessor, but it continues in the purely original vein that Marston originally gave us.

While his earlier film dealt with the drug trade between South America and New York, Marston delves much further into a world that very few of us is even clued into: the hidden society in Albania that lives according to an ancient set of laws called the Kanun, from the Latin canon. The Kanun regulates all aspects of the people who live in the mountainous regions of Albania. Of all these laws, the Besa is the most important. The Besa refers to a code of honor that determines how disputes are handled. A land dispute sets in motion the enforcement of Besa in "The Forgiveness of Blood".

Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is a teenager with a crush on a pretty girl. Aside from her, his only ambition is to start an Internet cafe. His world is turned upside-down when his father and uncle are involved in a land dispute that sees another fall dead. While we do not see the actual confrontation, we are led to believe that his father and uncle acted in self-defense, but it really doesn't matter. Besa is enforced and according to this law, the dead man's family can take the life of one of Nik's family as retribution, but it is open to negotiation.

Marston puts us in touch with a fascinating subject that really exists, but unfortunately, at times it drags a little. The unfolding of the consequences of the Besa is without the impact it should have. It just needed to be a little bit tighter, with less slow moments that don't push the story forward. However, this does not diminish the fact that "The Forgiveness of Blood" is definitely worth a watch, and I am definitely in the camp to forgive its shortcomings.

What did you think?

Movie title The Forgiveness of Blood
Release year
MPAA Rating NR
Our rating
Summary Joshua Marston follows up his smashing directorial debut with a film that tells of rituals that seem too odd to be true, yet that are still practiced in the mountainous ranges of Albania.
View all articles by David Kempler
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