Nik is a normal 17-year-old in the last year of high school ready to embark on his first romance and the opening of his own cafe after graduation. But when a local land dispute results in his father being accused of murder, Nik and the male members of his family are forced under house arrest. Nic's sister Rudipa has to leave school to take over the family business and whilst she flourishes with her newfound responsibility, Nik's resentment at his enforced isolation causes him to try and end the feud even though it may cost him his life.
A modern Albanian family find their everyday lives and livelihoods threatened when a long standing feud between neighbours finally causes bloodshed.
After generations have seemingly casually crossed one another’s land in order to get to town to sell their produce, which in this case is bread from a rickety old cart, one neighbour suddenly decides to forbid the other from crossing his land. This not only threatens the family’s livelihood but also invokes some ancient code that dishonours the entire family; the only way to save their honour it seems is for a member of the family to murder their wrong do-er. This in turn invokes a second Albanian code which states that the murderer must in turn be killed or sent to jail for their crime, to complicate matters further the patriarch of the family, Mark (Refet Abazi) - who also happens to be the murderer - goes into hiding, putting every member of his family at risk of death in his stead. In an attempt to ensure their safety Mark puts his wife and teenage children under house arrest, forbidding them to go out for the sake of their own safety.
All of this happens in the first half an hour. The deeper narrative of the movie is the way in which the two children, Nik (Tristan Halilaj) and Rudina (Sindi Lacej) handle the crisis. Nik, estranged from his girlfriend mopes and tells his father he ought to hand himself in, whilst the more practical Rudina finds a way to break the house arrest and continue working the family’s cart; now selling a more profitable product: cigarettes.
To cut a long story short Rudina, the ingenious little trooper that she is, finds a way to amend the feud and save her family.
I apologize for quickly glossing over the entire plot of Forgiveness of Blood but personally I found it so complicated and lacking in foundation that I felt it would be helpful to readers to have it laid out for them in a fairly simple fashion.
Beyond the narrative problems, which I think a strong editorial hand in the writing process could have removed entirely; Forgiveness of Blood fails to really develop a handful of it’s central characters; Nik and Mark both seem like cardboard cut outs, whilst the women of the family are the far more sensible and believable characters; yet even they are a little one dimensional.
The strange thing is I didn’t hate this movie, it both confused and intrigued me, I felt frustrated and entertained, satisfied and disappointed; but unfortunately one feeling was considerably stronger than the other and by the end I simply found myself wondering where the police were in all of this.