Bajrami’s performance is highly appreciable and compelling and is executed with utmost conviction to the narrative. She is fierce yet melancholic and innocent. Her expressions speak of her anger and frustration over her puppeteered life, and at the same time, she feels weak and despair. Bajgora, on the other hand, is on more of a supporting scale to offset the more profound protagonist. Remo’s arc does connect to that of Una’s, but we’re mostly looking at The Land Within through Una, given her more extensive history with the region. However, there is one particular scene where Remo breaks down, and the audience’s curiosity about his personal backstory finally gets catered to. A tearful narration of Remo’s life in the last few years is narrated and gives Bajgora the chance to portray his acting abilities sincerely.
The movie further delves into the impact of the Balkan Wars on the regional people through a specific subplot. It involves Remo and Una trying to find their lost relatives in an exhumation of a mass grave. These particular sequences could have been more extensive to add depth to their reflective message. The exhumation is further significant for the leads’ long-lost childhood. In serving the dual purpose of being a war picture and a traumatic drama, the drama loses itself a bit.
“…Maxville is visually formidable…”
As said, Maxville is visually formidable in telling this plot, but the exchange of cryptic conversations that try to hold a particular secret between the characters isn’t his forte. As a result, The Land Within convolutes its two motives and makes the story, to some extent, incomprehensive. Going further and further, Remo’s personal arc becomes a pressing concern and, therefore, loses its larger narrative that extends beyond the protagonists. Even in exploring Remo’s and Una’s past, the film stretches their quest for truth to the point that it becomes too predictable before the climactic reveal.
The dialogue exchanges and conversations do reference the insignificant ethnic tensions and their impact on everyday lives; some young soldiers have seen their families die – but there is a need for a balance between the verbal impact and their comprehensiveness. What the movie succeeds at is maintaining the visual tension that resonates with the overall atmosphere. However, the emotions aren’t channeled at the right pace on the verbal level.
For what’s worth, Bajrami is the finest takeaway of The Land Within. In this tense and gray depiction of a war-induced hopelessness disguised as a family drama, Una’s character finds a certain balance between the two – only held together due to Bajrami’s dedication to the role.
The Land Within screened at the Locarno Film Festival 2023.
"…delves into the impact of the Balkan Wars on the regional people..."