Winner of the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay at last year’s Berlin Film Festival, The Forgiveness of Blood, from writer-director Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), details a simmering contempt between two present day Albanian clans — think the Montagues and Capulets, minus any love story — that boils over into a blood feud that slowly rips a family apart when a land dispute leaves one man dead. Like 2009’s The Stoning of Soraya M and Ajami, as well as a small handful of other foreign films, Marston’s movie shines a light on religiously imputed dictums of punishment that may seem harsh (not to mention downright strange) to Western audiences, but does so in a way that never betrays the wider inclusiveness of its thematic inquiry.
Movies like this and Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-nominated A Separation — one of the best films of 2011, regardless of nationality — possess a special level of import and consequence beyond their simple narrative bonafides, because they underscore the universality of their conflicts and the fact that, governmental saber-rattling notwithstanding, young people of every ethnicity have an innate desire to quell the conflicts and divergences that so roil their parents. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (IFC Films/Sundance Selects, PG-13, 109 minutes)