Blood Diamond - Bloody Mess

Duration: 135min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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Blood Diamond is one of those films that seems like itís more of a message than a movie. Sometimes, a story can truly teach us something, illustrating an issue, illuminating a situation. Other times, a film feels like itís pushing its agenda down our throats. Unfortunately, Blood Diamond is more of the latter.

And itís too bad, because the conflicts in Africa and their financing through first world industrial pillaging is an important issue that is still only just beginning to get attention in the developed world. A good drama that shines some light on this could do wonders for raising awareness. However for a film like that to work itís got to be entertaining as well. A good story can ingrain its ideology into its audience but a so-so story just leaves us cold.

Blood Diamond is too much of a clichť. There is the noble ďsavageĒ played by Djimon Hounsou who is ravaged by the war around him but still so perfect that under his Hollywood gleaming muscles lies the soul of a man who canít even lie to save his own life. Western audiences are supposed to be impressed with the poor Africanís goodness.

Then there is the bitter, cynical white-African diamond smuggler played by Leonardo DiCaprio who, underneath his gruff, but Hollywood beautiful exterior is the poor soul of a good man who has suffered tragedy in his own life. He gets into it just to profit off the black man but he redeems himself by beginning to care and learning whatís truly important. Again, western audiences are supposed feel good about seeing this guy change.

Finally there is the Hollywood beautiful reporter played by Jennifer Connelly. Sheís a do-gooder and through her very unlikely romance with DiCaprio which takes up far too much of the movie, she teaches him to care. Then she is sent off out of harms way. I guess the film is saying a woman has no place in war.

Fortunately for the film, each of the leads puts in wonderful performances. Even DiCaprioís accent remains strong throughout and doesnít become distracting. Hopefully performances like this will quiet those who still think it gives them some kind of cred to mock him. Heís strong here as are Hounsou and Connelly although Hounsou is stronger when he gets to play something other than noble victim and Connelly is better when her character isnít just eye candy.

The story is kind of silly too. There are far too many ridiculous coincidences for the film to be even remotely believable. Unbelievably Hounsou is able to find his son by almost stumbling upon him. There is also the needless romance which takes us out of the film and is there for no explicable reason.

Then there is the violence. This is a chance for western audiences to begin to understand just how terrible the situation in Africa can be yet the film, for all its attempts to make this real, ends up feeling phoney. Maybe the violence was considered too disturbing to really show but so much of it ends up as background noise. It doesnít have the impact it should.

Blood Diamond is the latest in a string of films about modern conflict that just canít seem to put its finger on the problems. Its biggest sin is its inability to make us care about the people caught up in this crisis without marginalizing them. These films seem to think a western audience is only going to get it once a westerner is put in the middle of it. Until we get past this, these films will remain as removed from their message as their audience is.

Review By: Collin Smith

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