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Movie Review: Blood Diamond

Alternate Title: Diamonds Are Not a Girl's Best Friend

Story: If you are planning to buy a diamond for your loved one this holiday season do not see this compelling and exhausting film directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai) with a screenplay by Charles Leavitt.

Do you know where that diamond on your finger came from? Blood or conflict diamonds (the more PC term) has been a problem in African for some time.

In this exciting, gut wrenching film, the conflict takes place in 1999, in Sierra Leone. Diamonds are smuggled out of the country by mercenaries and traded for arms that end up in the hands of revolutionary guerillas who terrorize the country. The guerillas claim to be fighting the corrupt Government, the colonialists and everyone else but they are just as bad, and often worse than the corrupt Government. In the process we see atrocities, kidnappings and innocence lost on the children who are forced to become baby killer soldiers.

Sound a bit complicated? Yes, it is. You have to pay close attention to who is the bad guy since there is hardly a good guy to be seen.

This historically true diamond story surrounds a fictitious threesome as our protagonists. We have the crusading American photo-journalist trying to get the truth out to the world. Her entire character can be summed up in her speech declaring that American women would not buy diamonds for their fingers if they knew an African lost a hand because of their consumer needs. (She apparently has not seen that footage of American consumers as they trample one another to get those holiday deals on Black Friday). We have the mercenary diamond smuggler, who is not conflicted about his work, but slowly finds redemption. And finally, we have the only noble soul, the African father, who finds a large diamond while enslaved in the mines and loses his family along the way. His only quest is to find his family and return to his life.

This is an exciting, well crafted, beautifully shot film. The downside is its length.

However, if you, like me, enjoy a film with an important message, check it out.

Acting: Leonardo DiCaprio is terrific as the mercenary. His accent is perfect and I believed him throughout.Jennifer Connelly as the crusader was fine, but her part lacked any depth of character. Djimon Hounsou as the lone voice of reason was, as always, noble and strong.

Predilection: I like message movies and I like Leonardo DiCaprio.

Critters: A Rhodesian Ridgeback, elephants, pigs, a chimpanzee, cows and a cheetah.

Food: Bush meat - the above chimp (ugh).

Soundtrack: A bit swelling at times.

Visual Art: African is a beautiful continent in the places where it has not been ravaged.

Theater Audience: About 25 movie-goers.

Weather: It is either hot and sunny or it was raining buckets.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 2 - This is a violent film. There are places where you will definitely close your eyes.

Drift Factor: I started looking at my watch about an hour into the film. It is a complicated story and takes too long to develop.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I teared a bit.

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: I have never owned a diamond and never will. As a consumer I try to buy products that have not been produced through the blood of small children or slave labor but in this global economy it is getting increasingly difficult to know where or who made the product you are buying.

Big Screen or Rental: Either would be fine. If you like DiCaprio, here are some of my favorite films of his for you to rent: The Departed, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York, ,Marvin's Room, Romeo + Juliet, The Basketball Diaries, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and This Boy's Life.

Length: 25 minutes over the two hour rule.