The Forgiveness of Blood
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The Forgiveness of Blood

Ancient family strife meets text messaging in this Albanian drama.

Joshua Marston (USA/Albania/Denmark/Italy, Contemporary World Cinema)

Tuesday, September 13, 8:45 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 (350 King Street West)

Sunday, September 18, 3:15 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)

Like Shakespeare with cellphones, the latest from Maria Full of Grace director Joshua Marston takes ancient themes of blood feuds and Albanian family rivalries, and adds cellphones. As in Maria, Forgiveness deals with kids forced to grow up well before their time. When their father and uncle attack and kill a local man after a land squabble, Nik (Tristan Halilaj) and his younger sister Rubina (Sindi Laçej) are forced to take control of their family, with Nik working to settle the age-old familial squabble (ideally without getting killed) and Rubina, a crack student, forced out of school to take up the family’s bread route.

Forced to stay indoors as a sign of respect for the family his father and uncle offended, Nik soon gets stir crazy. At the same time, Rubina finds herself shouldering too much responsibility, competing with rival bread trucks and resorting to bootlegging American cigarettes to make up the cash. Forgiveness is an intermittently compelling portrait of a spot in the world where kids text message each other but adults are still wrapped up in ancient vendettas. But the wheel’s on Marston’s cart spin too much, repeating conversations about mediation and responsibility, without really giving a sense of Nik’s rattled confinement. The conclusion is genuinely affecting. But getting there is drudge work.