Blood Diamond

I missed Blood Diamond in the cinemas back in 2006. I felt no need at all to see it. "Depressing" was the first word I could think of whenever the movie came into a conversation. Was my initial objection justified?

Well, a "depressing movie" it most certainly is. Blood diamonds, child soldiers, racism amongst and against Africans and more, it's all there. The Belgians get a lashing : the city of Antwerp (a big importer of diamonds) and our former king, Leopold II, and his horrible treatment of the Africans are mentioned. Do we have blood on our hands? Unfortunately, yes.

To me, "watching a movie" equals having a good time. Escapism. Joy. But you can't have blinkers on all the time. A realistic, hard movie may open your eyes and lets you understand once again how good most of us have it, here in Europe.

Blood Diamond, then. Edward Zwick? I've never seen any of his movies, but a capable director he is. With Africa as your backdrop, you'll be hardpressed to film ugly landscapes or nature, but still kudos to Zwick for delivering such a visual treat.

The cast is extra impressive. Former teen idol Leonardo DiCaprio had won me over since Catch Me If You Can. Scorsese's The Departed further confirmed his talent. In Blood Diamond, he's a ruthless scoundrel and mercenary. A bad boy that ultimately shows he has a good side.

Djimon Hounsou, whom I first noticed in Gladiator, is the acting highlight of the flick. He's powerful, imposing and believable. Hounsou's role in 2004's In America may be his finest performance to date, but his turn as fisherman searching for his lost family in Blood Diamond is (almost) as good.

Jennifer Connelly, from Labyrinth fame, has less screen time than both men. She still holds up, because she's a terrific actress. And, if I can be a male chauvinst pig for a second, she's very beautiful too. I haven't seen her most applauded performance (Marion Silver in Requiem For A Dream), though.

Blood Diamond comes highly recommended. I can't really fault the movie. Cast, music, cinematography and emotional impact : it's all there. Worth checking out if you're looking for a movie with a little more substance than your average Sunday afternoon matinee.

Julian De Backer, 16 July 2008