Jenseits aller Grenzen
Where hope survives.
Yorick van Wageninger
Running Time: 127 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Germany, United States
Angelina Jolie loves doing a bit of charity work. Its one of her favourite things. She loves it so much that shes spent time as an official Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N., shes adopted her very own Cambodian refugee child, and she often takes her clothes off. Okay, so that last bit doesnt really have anything to do with her charity work but you have to admit, she does do it a Helluva lot.
Anyway, the point is that youd think, given her background, Beyond Borders would be the perfect movie for her. She plays Sarah Jordan, a UN worker and habitual do-gooder who ploughs her own money into aiding 1980s famine-struck Ethiopia. While there, she meets the arsey-but-charitable Dr Nick Callahan (Clive Owen). Amid the pain, suffering and starvation of the Third Worlders, sparks fly (well, sort of), and the pair gradually fall in love.
Its an unusual film in that it manages to hold the attention without ever really being any good. Over a period spanning eleven years, it takes us on to Cambodia, home of landmines and Gary Glitter, and then to Chechnya, land of big furry hats and people disappearing at random, with lengthy stop-offs at London in-between. But the border it crosses most often is the one between stilted romantic interlude and weak Aid Relief drama that could almost as easily have been titled Bob Geldof Investigates.
Jolie, for all her first-hand experience, spends the bulk of the film looking bored witless, and not for a second does she convince us of her feelings for either her love interest or the huddled masses. And then theres the inadvertently-deadpan Owen, doing ten rounds with sincerity and coming off the worst (try not to cringe as he spouts lines like Im no warrior Im in the relief business).
As for the rest of the characters, theyre a one-dimensional lot, from the faceless famine-sufferers, to the unintelligible foreign militants, to the black lady truck-driver who spews out stats off the top of her head. Precious little care or attention seems to have been put into writing them, and even their looks are a slap-dash job. Sure, theres some impressive CGI used in an early part of the film to turn a normal child actor into an emaciated famine victim, but none of the rest of them ever seem to age despite the time-frame, and nothing seems to have been done during the Eighties period to make them look well like theyre from the Eighties. Where are the mullets? The leg-warmers? The offensively-coloured eye shadow?
Essentially, Beyond Borders is a film that cant make up its mind whether it wants to be a politically-minded message movie, or a sprawling romantic epic with the result that it gets neither part right. It takes far too long to get anywhere (with the result that its final half-hour seems rushed), its sloppily written, and the point of it all if there even is one gets lost on the way. And its a long, long way.
It's Got: Iain Lee (yup, the bloke from The Eleven OClock Show and RI:SE) doing stand-up on Maggie Thatcher and Band Aid.
It Needs: Lenny Henry standing in the background, cawing loudly and wearing a silver tuxedo dotted with red noses.
DVD Extras Behind the Lines featurette, writing Beyond Borders, cast interviews (featuring Jolie with really big hair now THATS what the Eighties scenes should have been like!), directors commentary, a piece on the stars Goodwill Ambassador work. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Alternatives:Cry Freedom, Salvador, The Killing Fields, Welcome to Sarajevo
Walk straight past your local DVD store and give your money to Comic Relief instead youll feel better about it, and theyll give you a more entertaining nights viewing for your trouble.