In the past few years, Hollywood has had a particularly odd fascination with Africa. I do not say that this is a bad thing, only that it is peculiar. Africa represents mostly everything that is in direct contrast to the motion picture industry and vice versa. Hollywood is affluent, tamed, and full of fabricated beauty. Africa is mostly impoverished, wild, and vastly rugged. Yet recently much of our (United States) political, social, and global focus has been on this continent. Is it simply the mystery of Africa and its undomesticated qualities that draw us near to it?
As I watched Blood Diamond, I recalled the similar feelings of loss and awe that I had when I watched films like Hotel Rwanda, Sometimes in April, The Constant Gardener, and the little known documentary Invisible Children. My friend Trout said it best as we exited the theater, “I watch that and I just feel powerless, what can I do to make a difference?” And I think that when he asked that question there was something in me that jumped, because really that is the question, and in an instant it can make you ambivalent to the whole deal. There is something that nudges you as you watch a film like this, and it provokes you to deal squarely with the content, and you realize that there is a darkness that rests inside of you because you realize that you are guilty of indifference because you know that these atrocities are not isolated and happen all around us, and you are also humbled because the reality is that there is such darkness in this world, and we are blanketed in its shadows, and you feel that to begin to alter the picture is an incredibly daunting task.
I didn’t feel that the writing for the film was spectacular, the acting was what really carried this film. Djimon Hounsou is probably one of my favorite actors, and I don’t know if I’ve seen someone be able to convey emotion the way he does, it is at once raw and authentically human. Leo’s accent didn’t bug me as much as it did in the trailer, though I still think he was better in The Departed, he really does manage bring an edgy character whose life has been dominated by violence. Jennifer Connelly was also very good as the well-intentioned journalist who struggles with what it means to make a difference. Overall, this movie was devastating and beautiful in the same moment.
I hope you check it out.