Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Review: Blood Diamond

Last night, I went to a preview of Blood Diamond with C-Money. It's been too long since I've seen a movie with C-Money...months, I think. We got to talk a little before the film and on a cold and windy corner afterwards.

The movie was brutal; like a kick to the gut. It was like watching a movie about the Holocaust--it couldn't be too grim. When there was a humorous moment, it was hard to take. You almost felt guilty for laughing. But you were also relieved to have a chance to laugh. The civil war in Sierra Leone is one of the most horrifying events in recent history. The rebels chopped off hands, arms, was unbelievable, unimaginable...but it happened. That's not to mention the recruitment of child soldiers, the enslavement of civilians in the diamond "mines" and the destruction of many cities and villages.

The film tried to tell a particular story but had grander ambitions. The grand ambitions took away from the impact of the small-scale story. What do we care about UN meetings decrying "conflict" diamonds? Show us more of what it was actually like to be in Sierra Leone during the war. Those scenes were harrowing. People being shot right and left, with no rhyme or reason, no sense of why any of it was happening. The film also managed to convey the way people act when they know there is a war going on close by but not right there--the way they pretend it's not happening.

Probably the best thing about the film was Leonardo DiCaprio. He played a Rhodesian and he nailed the accent (well, I think he did--I first claimed him to be South African). Similar to his recent turn in The Departed, he played a completely sympathetic anti-hero. He's turning into one of the best actors of his generation. Versatile, creative and magnetic. I never liked him much before, but after these two most recent roles, I've changed my mind. Jennifer Connelly, while adequate, was wasted in a thankless role as a brash American reporter. She saves the day more than once, but her acting was flat. And it was annoying that a nice white lady ended up being the savior for a couple of Africans (DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou). The plot was compelling and not entirely believable. Also, it was one looong movie, running about 2.5 hours. I'm not sure what I think of Hounsou's performance--he played a naive village fisherman who loses his family, which may account for the stunned look on his face for most of the movie. The ending is satisfying--perhaps a tad too much--though not exactly happy. I can't whole-heartedly recommend this film, but if you have any doubt that the diamond industry is evil you should probably see it.

(Aside regarding my on-going issue with the age disparity between male and female leads: Jennifer Connelly is four years older than DiCaprio! Their relationship is romantic in the hopeless, impossible sense--as opposed to the sex sense.)

Grateful for: getting to see a movie with C-money.

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