Trudging Through ‘Earth and Blood’ Netflix’s Latest Thriller

With movie theaters still closed due to the pandemic, I decided to scour Netflix once more in search of a new movie. This time around, I discovered Earth and Blood which was just released.

Earth and Blood is a French crime-thriller directed by Julien Leclercq. It stars Sami Bouajila, a French-Tunisian actor who plays a man named Saïd. Saïd owns a sawmill in the midst of an expansive forest, but wants to sell it after discovering he has lung cancer; he also has a daughter named Sarah (Sofia Lesaffre) who is both partially deaf and mute, thus she has to communicate via sign language, but the only one who fully understands her is Saïd (as far as we know).

One of the sawmill workers, Yanis (Samy Seghir) hides a stash of cocaine within the farm after his half-brother, Mehdi (Redouanne Harjane) stole it. Mehdi entrusts Yanis to keep it safe, but a heavily-armed cartel run by Adama (Eriq Ebouaney) arrives at the mill to take back what was taken from them.

Earth and Blood is a slow burn, but it starts off with a shoot-out and robbery at a police station. After that, it’s mostly just waiting for the big action scene where Saïd has to protect his sawmill from the cartel. Saïd, or as I like to call him — French Michael Keaton — is a decent protagonist. He’s rightfully protective of his daughter, and cares for his co-workers as he lets them go after discovering the mill’s in danger, but not before paying them for their hard work.

The most rounded character is Sarah, whom I mentioned is partially deaf and mute. She has to wear a hearing aid in order to properly hear, but during a moment where she doesn’t wear it, we get a few minutes of utter silence as we experience what her trails are like without a sense of sound. This was a cool choice, especially during a suspenseful scene where we’d normally want to hear; it was probably one of the only engaging scenes in the film; as I mentioned before, it’s quite a slow burn. Not saying slow burns are bad, but aside from the shoot-out at the beginning, it does take a while for something engaging to happen.

One aspect that can leave a sour taste in people’s mouth is that a majority of the cartel are POC. It also doesn’t help that they’re one-dimensional and extraordinarily violent, Adama’s signature move is snapping necks. He has a gun, but he prefers to get up close to his victim and snap their necks; it’s pretty brutal; well, the entire “big showdown” at the mill is fairly brutal, so I suppose that’s a bit of an understatement.

Overall the film isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. Earth and Blood is just another Netflix original that’ll be talked about for a few days, and then be completely forgotten. The best thing going for are the actors, especially Sofia Lesaffre as Sarah. As she can’t talk, she communicates well through facial expressions and sign language, plus she’s a sympathetic character that you want to survive through this harsh ordeal. It’s also interesting that the character is deaf and mute. We don’t see that sort of representation much in movies. The last one that I can think of is A Quiet Place. And on that note, when’s A Quiet Place Part II coming out?

Earth and Blood is slow, but it still has it’s entertaining moments. If you’re into thrillers, or want to watch something new, then this film might be for you. As for me, Earth and Blood was tolerable enough. I could’ve gone for more dialogue since I found certain character dynamics lacking, especially for Yanis and his brother. To be honest, I didn’t care much for them when they were in danger. The cartel on the other hand, they might as well have bad guys written on their foreheads since that’s their sole characteristic. I’m not looking for Darth Vader complexity, but they could’ve at least been more noteworthy.

Originally published by Lauren Massuda on April 23, 2020


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