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Will God forgive us for the things we have done to each other? Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) says this to Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) as they sit discussing the rape of Africa for its natural resources. In this case the object is diamonds. Archer the smuggler and Bowen the journalist have joined together to help, mainly themselves, but also a man struggling to find his family in this new film from director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) called Blood Diamond.

The film takes place in the midst of war and fighting in 1990’s Sierra Leone. Local farmer Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) has been ripped from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields. When he finds a large stone he uses it as a bargaining chip to regain his family. This film has many elements that make it a decent if not close to super film. Its only downfall in my opinion is its preachiness that though relevant adds to the extended length of the film and is at times redundant. At one point the journalist Bowen makes a comment that she is afraid the piece she is writing sounds and looks like an infomercial for starving children. At times I thought Blood Diamond had the same flaw. But, that said, the rest of the film makes up for it.

The story is intriguing and the characters well developed. All three main actors deliver strong performances. DiCaprio seems to get better and better with each role he takes on. I was worried when he first came on the screen with an accent, but for the most part he made it believable. Possibly his acting would have made up for any shortcomings in the speech department. He plays the former mercenary perfectly and I would not be surprised to see at least a nod when they start slinging out award nominations. The other nod should go to Djimon Hounsou for his role as a peaceful farmer thrown into a battle not his choosing. His dedication to his family and hope for their survival is moving and at times fabulous. And as one other theater goer put it, “He’s hot too!” Not sure I took that from the performance, but to each his, or in this case, her own.

I liked the contrasting personalities the story gave to Archer and Vandy.
Both are from Africa but their lives and attitudes are worlds apart. The movie does well in showing how both characters evolve a little before it is all said and done. They learn from each other and both benefit from each others strengths. Blood Diamond is rated R for strong violence and language.
There are many scenes of attacks on villages by rebel forces and the graphic killing of women and children. The violence also involves children as solders killing other children and adults. It is a real portrayal of life in a drastic time for Sierra Leone and depicted here in full color and force.
I give this film 4 out of 5 blings. Though long at over two hours the story does keep you until the end. With a spin on Blood Diamond, I’m Matt Mungle

The Mungle (matt@spin180.net)(12/05/06)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

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