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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Beyond Borders

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Judy Thorburn

"Beyond Borders" - Into Heartwrenching Territories

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“BEYOND BORDERS” INTO HEARTWRENCHING TERRITORIES

Anyone who is a fan of full lipped actress Angelina Jolie is aware of her dedicated work to help the starving refugees in Southeast Asia, and would know about her recent adoption of a Cambodian infant she has named Maddox.  In a TV interview with Barbara Walters, just a few weeks ago, Jolie spoke of how she has put aside one third of her salary from making movies for humanitarian causes. It was clear to see how important it is for her to use her celebrity status and wealth to make a difference in the world.  After watching Beyond Borders, it is obvious how much her role and the subject matter in this movie were influential in making these life-changing decisions.

Jolie stars as American Sarah Jordan, the wife of Henry Bauford (Linus Roache) who is the son of a wealthy British industrialist.  Sarah’s well cushioned life is turned upside down after she witnesses handsome relief doctor, Nick Callahan (Clive Owen, The Croupier) crashing a high society charity event with a starving child from a Third World country in order to make a strong point.  This inspires Sarah to personally take a part in the relief effort by traveling to famine-plagued Ethiopia in 1985 bringing supplies and food. It is there that Sarah comes face to face with the headstrong doctor again, in a meeting that sets in motion the beginning of a passionate, but forbidden love affair and will take her into dangerous territory.

Over the course of ten years, encompassing relief efforts to aid the needy refugees stuck in the middle of guerilla warfare of the Kmer Rouge in Cambodia, to the war torn, mid 90’s Chechnya after the fall of Communism, the movie tracks Sarah’s dedication to try and save the world and the man she loves, to the extent of sacrificing the time away from her family back home.

Billed as an epic romance, Beyond Borders takes an important subject and works within the storyline to send a message.   Although emotionally heavy and disturbingly graphic, it captures the reality of the often-frustrated attempts of compassionate aid workers to make a dent in relieving the suffering of the destitute and diseased people that are in dire need of help all over the globe.  Unfortunately, in Dr. Nick’s case, he is forced to make unsavory political compromises like running guns in exchange for aid to refugees, which further complicates his efforts as well as putting lives at risks.  The disastrous situations are meant to tug at your heart. It is not easy to watch a starving infant in Ethiopia sitting nearby, as his mother lies dying under the watchful waiting eyes of a vulture, or to view a extremely discomforting scene that involves a baby holding a grenade who is used as a pawn for guerillas angry at relief workers over confiscated weapons which were supposed to be delivered to them.  These are just a few of the images that are raw and brutal and will stay in your memory.

Beyond Borders is a depressing film, but also one that has social and political relevance.  Having admirable performances from two very good-looking leads as Jolie and Owen makes the romantic aspect very convincing.  Their character’s attraction to each other is believable since they share the same passions, be it their crusade and each other. No doubt as to why they would be drawn to each other.

Sitting in our relaxing U.S. movie theatre seats, it’s an uncomfortable feeling being reminded of the suffering and poverty in Third World nations. The reality is hard to face.

I credit director Martin Campbell (Mask of Zorro, Vertical Limit) for making an important film that could have a positive effect on viewers by reinforcing the responsibility each person has to another.  The love between the leads expands to love and caring for all mankind, and is aimed at going Beyond Borders.