Director: Edward Zwick
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly
Synopsis: A fictional story based in the very real conflict resulting from the diamond trade in Africa. Smugglers resort to any means to obtain the diamonds and sell them to the diamond markets in Western civilisation. The people are at the whim of tyrants and dictators. This tale follows three characters. Solomon Vardy (Hounsou) is an African man whose family is torn apart by the conflict, until he finds a large rare diamond which he hopes to use as a bargaining chip to reunite with his wife and children. Danny Archer (DiCaprio) is a weapons smuggler looking to escape the continent, and considers Vardy’s diamond as his ticket out. Finally, Maddy Bowen (Connelly) is a journalist covering the conflict whose path intersects that of the other two men.
A review by Film Nerd.
This film is a class act, bearing a message that is a bitter pill to swallow. How would you feel paying top dollar for an engagement ring rock knowing that this small piece of jewellery cost many African people, including women and children their lives?? But the simple fact is that as little as 10 years ago, any diamond you bought could indeed have been at that price. African “Conflict” or “Blood” diamonds were not distinguished from diamonds obtained by more honest means, and only by revealing the travesties occurring in Africa to the global power was a stop put to this trade.
This film highlights the devastation this conflict caused for everyone involved. We follow Solomon Vardy as he is removed from his family to mine diamonds, while his son is indoctrinated into the army of an invading warlord. He discovered an exceptionally large pink diamond, and manages to barely escape with it with his life. Hounsou is a brilliant actor in any setting (I really should write a review for the film In America, which first brought my attention to him). He is practical, and focussed on his goal, but the sheer pain of the journey is truly disturbing, and it really should not be anything else. DiCaprio’s Archer is also a jewel of a role, a seemingly self-preserving cad ready to betray Vardy in an instant if it gets him out of Africa…. at least at first. Occasionally his Afrikaans accent does slip, but that is forgivable given that most of the time he nails it, and admittedly it would be one of the harder accents to learn. By comparison to these two, Connelly’s Maddy Bowen lacks a bit of power, but she doesn’t need it. She bring a conscience to these proceedings, showing an indignation at these atrocities that you would hope the rest of the developed world would reciprocate.
This is a hard review to write. anyone who follows my other reviews may detect a sense of humour throughout. But the simple fact is there can be no humour about a subject like this. As such, it can make for difficult viewing. But if you are interested in cinema as not just a method of escapism, and can accept it as a vehicle to enlighten you on dark chapters of human history that should not be forgotten, this is a must watch film. It will certainly have you considering any major purchase you make with greater depth, knowing it can bear a greater cost than the lightness of your wallet.
5 stars (out of a possible 5)