Beyond Borders

Posted on October 23, 2003 at 7:17 pm

C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Smoking and alcohol
Violence/ Scariness: Intense peril, characters killed
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: 2003

An important and affecting story about relief workers gets buried under a syrupy romance in “Beyond Borders,” which has Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen gazing longingly at each other across starving and injured people in three different countries over a 10-year period.

It opens at a posh black-tie fundraiser, with Sarah (Jolie) dancing with her new husband to the prophetic Clash anthem, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” She is having a wonderful time until Nick (Owen) crashes the party to accuse the organization of cutting off his funding. Sarah realizes the superficiality of supporting relief efforts with fancy parties, and empties out her bank account so that she can deliver food to Nick’s camp in Ethiopia. He alternately patronizes and ignores her (“You’re wearing perfume in the desert?”). But he is moved by her dedication to a child he thought was beyond help.

Four years later, Sarah, working full-time for the UN, unhappy with her husband but devoted to their son, meets up with Nick again, this time in Cambodia, where he is running a camp for the victims of the Khmer Rouge. They meet once more in Chechnya.

Director Martin Campbell is much more comfortable with the action scenes than with the romance. The tension and tragedy and the very different atmosphere of the different locations are vividly portrayed. But the romance serves as a soapy distraction that ultimately does a real disservice to the issues the movie raises and the extraordinary commitment and achievements of the real-life relief workers it attempts to honor.

Parents should know that the movie has very intense peril and violence and many scenes with starving and severely wounded people, including children. Characters are killed. There are moments of great cruelty. A man gives a baby a grenade to play with to demonstrate how little he cares for anyone or anything. There are non-explicit sexual situations, including adultery. Characters drink, smoke, and use very strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Sarah, Elliot, and Nick decide what compromises they will and will not make. How can those compromises overtake the good that they are trying to accomplish?

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate The Year of Living Dangerously, City of Hope, and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

Related Tags:

 

Movies -- format

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2021, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik