The Forgiveness of Blood Directed by: Joshua Marston Cast: Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Refet Abazi Running Time: 1 hr 50 min Rating: Not Rated Showtimes at PIFF: 2/10 8:30pm at Cinemagic, 2/12 5:00pm at Lloyd Center Complete PIFF Schedule
PLOT: After years of bickering, Mark and his brother kill their neighbor over a land dispute. He runs from police, and incurs a blood debt, meaning any males in his family could be killed to make things even. This forces his sons to stay inside, and his daughter must quit school and work to keep the family afloat.
WHO'S IT FOR? The kids seem remarkably similar to American teens, making the film really relatable.
Marston's last feature, Maria Full of Grace, felt like a foreign film though it took place in the US. This time, he shoots the whole film in Albania, with no English at all. A family falls apart after a man kills his neighbor over a very small sleight (he closes a road through his field). His reasons are never questioned, and his children are forced to suffer for it. Eldest siblings Nik and Rudina both are taken from their high school and forced to pitch in. Nik isn't allowed to leave the house for fear he'll be murdered, despite the fact he took no part in his father's actions. Rudina excels at school and has dreams of going to college, but it's all tossed aside after the killing. She takes over her father's bread route, delivering bread to homes and businesses in her village with a tiny horse drawn cart. Instead of studying, she thinks up ways to make more money. But as the days turn into weeks and then months, the kids begin to question the adults in their lives. No one suggests their father should turn himself in, although the other family refuses to let the boys leave otherwise.
The kids feel like American teens. They play video games and want to go to college. They sneak out and have parties. But their modern lives are destroyed by an ancient blood feud. Marston does a good job of juxtaposing the old and the new, there's so much story and it's all interesting. But the film does drag at points. This helps me relate to the kids' plight but not to love the movie more.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10