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Movie Review: 'The Forgiveness of Blood' -- 3 stars

Tristan Halilaj in “The Forgiveness of Blood”

Tristan Halilaj in “The Forgiveness of Blood” Credit: Tristan Halilaj in “The Forgiveness of Blood”

The Forgiveness of Blood
3 stars
Directed by
Joshua Marston
Starring Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Refet Abazi
Not rated

The past and present intersect violently in "The Forgiveness of Blood," a tense, visceral film about the human cost of a roiling Albanian blood feud.

American filmmaker Joshua Marston follows his acclaimed debut feature "Maria Full of Grace," a gritty and transcendent flick about a Colombian drug mule, with another impressive achievement. "Forgiveness" is a full-scale immersion in a story that's defined by universal emotions and painstaking specificity, the story of a modern family victimized by an ancient, antiquated law.

Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is an everyday teen forced into unforeseen circumstances when his father (Refet Abazi) and uncle murder a neighbor in the culmination of a major feud.

The Albanian code of Kanun is now triggered, which mandates the murder of a man from Nik's family by the aggrieved neighbors in return. And Nik himself becomes a target when his uncle goes to jail and his father goes into hiding.

Additionally, the Kanun dictates that Nik and the rest of his male family members must be confined to their homes, leaving his sister Rudina (Sindi Lacej) to run the family's bread-delivery business. Inside the family compound, a suffocating atmosphere takes hold, rife with unease that's manifest in even the most innocuous moments. Director Marston never lets you forget the threat that looms outside the front door.

"The Forgiveness of Blood" is a raw, brutal achievement that's even more impressive because no actual violence is seen on-screen. Instead, the film evokes a pervasive mental torture as Nik's freedoms are eroded.

It's a classic slow burn, a collection of patiently assembled observational sequences that collectively portrays the psychological toll facing teens under siege, the victims of the sins of their elders.

Playing at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine

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