By John Anderson
By Nick Schager
By Anna Dimond
By Chris Klimek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Ciara LaVelle
By Scott Foundas
The Forgiveness of Blood tells the story of two sparring Albanian families whose conflicts lead to a death in one clan shortly after the movie begins. The fallout from that bloodshed is the film's razor-sharp focus. This ranges from the religion-infused cultural dictate that the killer's family submit to housebound isolation (lest that family's males be fair game for revenge) to the flouting of socially prescribed gender rules that would bar the teen daughter of the killer from taking over the family business after her father goes into hiding. Some of the film's most nerve-racking moments revolve around Nik (Tristan Halilaj), the teenaged son of the killer, who, in the midst of a fledgling high school romance, broods and chafes against being tied to his house. His adolescent narcissism leads him to not only take foolish risks but also to possibly commit an act of unforgivable betrayal. The film nails the claustrophobia of small-town life and the turbulent emotionalism of teenagers, but what pushes the story toward sublimity is the way it delicately captures all of the characters' inner lives as their world slowly crumbles.
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