Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I saw the film Blood Diamond recently, and while flawed in many respects, it is also remarkably engaging. The captivating nature of the film can be attributed in large part to the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is getting better and better at playing morally ambiguous characters. The onus of carrying this movie is placed on DiCaprio's shoulders from his very first scene, and he captivates throughout. (For what it's worth, I saw both this and The Departed and thought the Academy got it right in deciding which piece DiCaprio should be nominated for.) Any time you make what is essentially a "message" movie, you run the risk of getting preachy, and Blood Diamond certainly succumbs to this flaw. (Admittedly, it is hard NOT to be preachy about such horrors) Most of the hackneyed dialog falls to Jennifer Connelly, playing the journalist who still feels she can make a difference. The fault here is not necessarily Connelly's--she is saddled with a naive, half-baked character, and has to hold up her end of a predictable, equally half-baked romance as well. Plot contrivances notwithstanding, this is a good, if not great film, featuring great performances. (An underutilized Djimon Hounsou is arresting as always--I would pay money to watch him read a shopping list) In addition to being a good film, this is an important film, and illustrates the potential power of film making. There is an adage about theatre that holds a director has done his job if one audience member leaves the room somehow richer for the experience. Blood Diamond will not bring DeBeers to its knees, but it is both possible and probable that it will cause people who had never heard of the Kimberely Process and had no notion that Africa even had diamonds to think twice and ask a few questions before sliding on that new ring. Modern Cinema has unprecedented reach and thus unprecedented power. It is encouraging when every once in a while a film is released to a nation-wide audience that uses that power for something more noble than Eddie Murphy in a fat suit.