Too Happy

Blood Diamond is a much better film than I expected. Extraordinary production values, even in this era of pricey trans-national co-productions; and superb performances, especially by Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny, a mercenary from Zimbabwe (back when it was Rhodesia); and Djimon Hounsou as Solomon, a fisherman from Sierra Leone whose village is raided by paramilitary thugs trading in illegal diamonds.

Forced into slavery in the mine, Solomon finds a huge diamond, which he manages to bury during a government raid. Barely escaping with his life, Solomon desperately wants to retrieve the stone, not so he can become rich but so he can rescue his son, Dia, impressed into murderous service as a child soldier.

Greed and paternal love are then united, as Solomon reluctantly teams up with Danny to find the stone. Of course, as director Edward Zwick says on the DVD commentary, the real diamond is the boy, not the stone, and as the story unfolds, this hard lesson is learned by the hardest of men, Danny the mercenary.

Why "Too Happy"? Because the right ending occurs about 10 minutes before the credits actually appear, and those last 10 minutes are nothing but feel-good gas. There are so many grim scenes in this film, the ending I am calling "right" - which consists of a narrow escape and an honorable death - is plenty. Why ruin it with additional scenes poured out of that big bottle of Hollywood Formula? Probably because the film was audience tested on the kind of people who find anything but swelling music, warm embraces, and applause for the hero "depressing."

Bitter truths beautifully presented, then coated with saccharine at the end. That's what I call depressing.

September 3, 2007 1:00 PM |



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This page contains a single entry by Martha Bayles published on September 3, 2007 1:00 PM.

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