"(R) Three and a half stars

After a year of film offerings that educated and terrified about global climate change, e coli in hamburger meat and a plot to undermine the existence of the electric car, we’ve got something else to fret about: diamonds.

This reviewer can hereby state with confidence, however, that the purchase of diamonds has never been and never will be a personal choice, not so much out of a sense of social justice, but frankly from the lack of funds. If I had a diamond, though, I might seriously consider returning it after watching this film.

Directed by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai), Blood Diamond is the story of Sierra Leone in the 1990s and the diamonds at the source of a civil war that tore that country apart, leaving its people with amputated limbs, fractured families and cracked psyches. Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), an ex-mercenary from Rhodesia, is our antihero/hero, a swashbuckler out to make a score. While in a prison, he overhears talk of the existence of a blood diamond, that is, a big, honking-ass gem, big enough to make all your dreams come true. His ticket to wealth is a Mende fisherman named Solomon (Djimon Hounsou) whose family has been lost in the melee of his war-torn country. Journalist-with-a-heart-of-gold Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) gets mixed into the drama, and the three form a global mod squad, each with their own, separate but you-can-bet-intertwining goal: Maddy is looking for truth, Solomon is searching for his family and Danny is ogling the blood diamond. When the assumptions and logic holes and ghastly violence pile up too much, you can sit back and just say, “Gimme some of that!” whether it’s sexy and assured Connelly or DiCaprio, growing deliciously into his own gravitas, or Hounsou (In America), whose performance is the most moving of all.

As the closing credits began, a gentleman behind me remarked to his companion, “That was good … for a four-hour movie.” While not even two and a half hours long, Blood Diamond feels like a long film, if only for its relentless, bloody march of human angst. Happy holidays.

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