Beyond Borders Movie Review
Angelina Jolie stars in Beyond Borders, a movie that was ravaged by critics and ignored by audiences when it was released in the fall of 2003. It is also a movie that is underappreciated, as it is surprisingly pretty good and engaging. Beautiful scenery and strong performances make for a good rental.
The plot revolves around the relationship between a woman (Jolie) who has grown up in luxury and a doctor (Clive Owen, who will be playing King Arthur in the upcoming movie of the same title) who has spent much of his life helping people out in third world countries. After being emotionally touched by the good doctor, she begins her new life as someone who wants to help everyone; of course, as time goes on, she begins to realize that that isn't possible with the amount of funding that is available. With the backdrop of war torn yet oftentimes beautiful countries, Beyond Borders watches as their relationship develops over the course of a decade.
The most striking feature about this movie is the film work, which is absolutely extraordinary. Much of the scenery and the cinematography that compliments such views are as crisp as I have ever seen. I just wrote a review on The Alamo and blamed its director for the film's failure; here, I praise director Martin Campbell for this movie's success.
As far of the story goes, the movie is a little inconsistent at times but other than that quite intriguing from beginning to end. Jolie's character visits three or four different places over the time span of the movie, and each place serves for a slightly different subplot (all linked together by the strange relationship that forms between her and Owen's character). In many ways, the movie reminded me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, not so much in plot but in mood. As the movie progresses, each situation that Jolie finds herself in is more terrible and depressing, yet she keeps pushing on to find what she is looking for. The final sequence, which takes place in Chechnya, perhaps is a little bit out of place (it almost seems like an action movie), but still well done.
Jolie, who has spent much of her time since winning an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted trying to prove that she is a one-hit wonder, does a good job in the lead. There are no award-winning performances here, but she, and Owen, both deliver strong performances.
Beyond Borders is one of those movies that on some scales are quite epic but will soon be lost in video shelf hell. It is unfortunate, because the movie is surprisingly engaging and well-done. Anyone who has an interest in the countries we hear very little about should definitely check this movie out. It works better as a dialogue on the world today than as a romance, but that is fine with me.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.