Director: Edward Zwick
Although most reviewers, including myself, felt that Leonardo DiCaprio was unfairly denied an Oscar nomination for Scorsese’s Best Picture winner The Departed, one can’t overlook his brilliance and versatility displayed in the film that did earn him a nomination, Blood Diamond. As diamond smuggler Danny Archer, DiCaprio is excellent as the scheming and amoral character that, during the bloody 1999 civil war in Sierra Leone, exploits a local fisherman who has buried a big diamond in the midst of the dangerous African soil. Djimon Honsou (who also received a nomination and in my mind deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar) is mesmerizing as Solomon, the hardworking father and husband whose family has been abducted and son has been forced into a vicious child army wing of the revolution. After Solomon is pushed to dig for diamonds for the rebels who trade weapons for the precious stones, he meets up with Archer under extreme circumstances. Jennifer Connelly provides ample support as American journalist Maddy Bowen who tries to use her influence to help Solomon and get Archer to reveal the deception in his line of work, while getting the story out to her New York readers. In addition to the disturbingly true events surrounding the violence and civil unrest that erupts from the diamond trade thereby making them far less appealing as “a girl’s best friend,” this brutal film, like Hotel Rwanda opens viewer’s eyes to the upsetting realities faced in other parts of the world and while some of the overly violent torture scenes seem a bit forced (including one too many near-escapes from gunfire), and trying unsuccessfully to conjure up the same energy of the superior Brazilian film City of God, it’s nonetheless highly compelling and worthwhile global filmmaking.