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" seems like maybe they both got into helping people in order to get laid. Not that's a bad reason. It's how Florence Nightingale got started, after all."



Beyond Borders
The Masked Reviewer

Angelina Jolie (pronounced "Joe-Lee", not "Jolly", in case you bump into her at the local book store) stars in this film that the studio seems to be presenting as a love story.


In her personal life, Angelina Jolie has taken a great interest in helping people.  And, a major thrust of the film seems to be to show human suffering in various parts of the world.  As it's not particularly relevant to the plot, the Masked Reviewer will reveal what parts of the world are shown: starving people in Africa, people with limbs blown off in Cambodia, and Chechnyan people in a war zone.

And, that's part of the problem.  The horrible suffering of people isn't relevant to the plot, other than being a backdrop for this love story.

And, that's the other part of the problem.  It's not really much of a love story. 

Clive Owen (from Gosford Park (2001) and The Bourne Identity (2002)) plays the impetuous, passionate, surly love interest.  He hates human suffering.  Ooh, it makes him mad.  And Jolie's character finds that very appealing.  Who wouldn't?  The trouble with the film begins with the fact that they use real horrors in the world for dramatic effect.  Sure, it's done all the time.  But, because they don't really dig very deep into those problems, it feels like they're copping a quick feel from the breasts of serious issues.  It's a cheap way to inject emotion into a film.  Effective, yes.  But good filmmaking?  No.  Are we moved because the filmmaker created a situation that we can relate to, or are we reacting to images independent of the film?  It's as if someone put a clip of the World Trade Center towers coming down on 9-11.  People will react. 

Such is the case with Beyond Borders.  Starving kids make people sad (especially the makers of SlimFast).  But, those images are used and not really dealt with; they go off to another "hot spot" of human suffering. 

A weird side-effect of this is that you can't help compare the three areas of human suffering.  After the starving kids in Africa, the Cambodians with missing limbs don't seem that bad off.  At least they have water and food!  And, the fighting in Chechnya?  They don't look like they need help after the other two places. They have clothing, food, and vehicles.  Sure, there's gunfights and explosions, but it doesn't seem bad at all, and ... well...that's probably not what they were going for.

The feelings that develop between Angelina Jolie's character and Clive Owen's character isn't well developed.  Is it physical?  There's a lot of hostility and not much else.  They don't get many scenes together that show the reason for their strong feelings.  As a result, it seems like maybe they both got into helping people in order to get laid.  Not that's a bad reason.  It's how Florence Nightingale got started, after all.

The cinematography is quite impressive, however.  They do a good job of showing the beauty of the countrysides contrasted with the horrors happening in each country.

It seems the images weren't gruesome enough, because they added a lot of flies digitally.  The flies don't look quite right, and it's clear that they're fake.  How hard is it to get real flies?  Can a bucket of live flies actually be more expensive than hiring a team of digital artists?  Wouldn't real flies look better?  Are the union fees too high?  Is that the problem?  Flies have some kind of collective bargaining agreement?  Just use flies!

The music in the film is not good.  Slow, simple, repetitive.  It tries to be elegant and moving, but fails.  Music shouldn't detract from a movie, in the Masked Reviewer's opinion.

The acting is good, though.  Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen carry the entire film, and they do a capable job.  They aren't able to transcend the other problems in the film and really suck the viewers in, though. 

Who will like this film?  If you love Angelina Jolie, you'll be impressed with her performance.  If you love Angelina Jolie for other, there's no nudity, sorry.  If you like to see images of human suffering, you might get a kick out of Beyond Borders because they show a lot of it.  It's almost like a really long Sally Struthers "Save the Children" commercial. 

Not a big fan of people using real life horror to inject feeling into an uninteresting and poorly developed story about two people?  You might want to pass on Beyond Borders.  At 127 minutes running  time, and featuring a lot of slow, dull music, some might be inclined to refer to this film as Beyond Boredom, but that would just be mean.

If you have to go, don't expect a light romantic comedy. 


Expectation from the Title: When Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks, and all run out of copies of "The Life and Times of John Favreau", a loyal fan turns to his favorite bookstore as his last hope.  But when they don't have it, he must keep searching.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  That Clive Owen looks a little bit like a young Mel Gibson, and Angelina Jolie is always very presentable.

The Pros: Beautiful cinematography, good performances.

The Cons: Bad character development, plot relies on external images to create emotion, leaving an empty experience.


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