The Forgiveness of Blood
From Colombian drug-mules in debut Maria Full of Grace to Balkan blood feuds in The Forgiveness of Blood, American director Joshua Marston again uses an outsider eye to mine drama from unfamiliar circumstances. Set in northern Albania, early scenes show rival families contesting land boundaries and bickering in bars, but when their deep-rooted dispute spills over into murder, the relatives of the man responsible are forced into hiding lest the male members be targeted in retaliatory violence.
Largely told from the perspective of two teens caught in the crossfire, Forgiveness… is an intelligent, emotionally-nuanced work. While the diktats of the Kanun (traditional Albanian laws predicated on honour and kinship) are integral to the plot and only gradually explained, Marston and Andamion Murataj’s script is always comprehensible, with emphasis placed on universal feelings of adolescent frustration rather than judicial minutiae. As the siblings weather a conflict that predates them by generations, their claustrophobic limbo builds into a satisfyingly open ending.