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120 out of 158 people found the following review useful:

Stunned

10/10
Author: project_x5 from New Zealand
15 July 2004

I was absolutely amazed by this film. It has changed my entire perspective on life. After seeing this I want to smack myself for every time that I've ever complained. Ever been depressed. Ever "suffered". I am very disappointed that Beyond Borders was not released in cinemas in my country, and did not do well worldwide. I think it could touch so many more lives like it did my own. I am so much more grateful for what I and everyone else in the Western world have/has. We have very little to worry and stress about. Our lives are so trivial and we need to understand just how lucky we are. On top of it being an amazingly meaningful movie, it has a very well developed storyline with excellent acting by both Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen and everyone else.

Please see this movie. It is wonderful and breathtaking and emotional and heartwarming and covers almost every other feeling you could have.

And if you are one of the people brave enough to do something about the situations discussed in the movie, I thank you so much, from one human to another.

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100 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

It's gratifying that movies like this are still being made

9/10
Author: sarastro7
23 January 2005

I am appalled to see that the overall IMDb rating for this movie is only 5.2 (edit: now down to 4.9! Madness! Later edit: Ah, now it's up to 5.4 - still abysmal. Oh, and now it's up to 5.9 - going the right way, at least!). Hopefully posterity will be kinder to it than that. It is a very good, well-acted, well-written and well-filmed movie. Apparently, though, it is too subtle for many viewers.

The humanitarian situation it shows is reality. The characters may be fictional, and they may not be representative of the typical relief worker - but they aren't supposed to be. This is a story of those particular two people, and how their feelings for each other grow out of the humanitarian work they are embroiled in. There's no separating the love story from the relief efforts, because she falls in love with him because of his commitment to those efforts. It's true that, at the end in Chechnya, she is more interested in him than in the local situation, but there are two very good reasons for this: One, unlike in Ethiopia and Cambodia she was only there to find him; she wasn't involved in some relief work there, so obviously his safety was foremost in her mind. And two, and more importantly, if she managed to save him, he could have continued being the man she fell in love with; continued his courageous commitment to fight death and suffering. So, I repeat, the love story and the humanitarian subject matter of this movie cannot been separated.

And the thing about her leaving her own family; fer crying out loud, it wasn't a happy family! Her cheating husband represented, both to Angelina's character and in a wider metaphorical sense, the numbing meaninglessness of a trivial, awkward and frequently loveless domestic situation, compared to the importance of saving lives and being in the company of infinitely more inspiring people.

(And what a refreshing change to see her husband - Linus Roach - in the kind of role that so many women portray in the usual Hollywood movie, being the colorless, passive backdrop to the male hero. Gratifying to see it reversed, for once.)

The ending of the movie was unexpected, and yet, in retrospect, it couldn't have ended any other way. If the movie were serious about its subject matter - the relief efforts *as well* as the love story -, it required an end of that sort. The surviving daughter keeps the hope for an eventual happy end alive.

I'm saddened that so many people did not "get" the movie. Many of the criticisms leveled against it are of scenes that were *meant* to evoke that response, and which are addressed later in the movie. There's a development going on; the characters are growing in the course of the story, and so is the movie. Many people apparently couldn't perceive that.

This was an extremely well-structured, rare, thought-provoking and sobering type of movie that I'm thankful could get made in this day and age (and I've just bought the DVD). But what a pity it met with such an insensitive public response.

9 out of 10.

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93 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

Sad but as realistic as can be

Author: muslihajanssen from The Netherlands
23 January 2005

I didn't even know about this movie until I chanced upon a trailer of it and then realised it hadn't even made it to the cinemas. I wondered why so I searched on IMDb, most comments are mixed but I reckoned I should give the movie a watch but couldn't get hold of the DVD until now. Only then did I know why it never made it to the box office nor even near any cinemas in certain countries.

Let's face it - we go to the cinemas to forget our problems and not be reminded of them which is precisely the reason why movies like these don't make any money but others do. Most movies about injustice and persecution always have the good guys win in the end but this movie doesn't. In fact, we're introduced to the startling reality of the lives of volunteer workers and what they have to go through with all their good intentions in place. We are also introduced and/or reminded of the ugly side of humanity as to why certain countries will never be able to have peace because people are just too selfish fighting out their own agendas to spare any thought for another person.

Clive Owen was superb in this movie and whilst I would've liked to see him paired up with Catherine-Zeta Jones (the original choice for the female lead), Angelina Jolie was pretty decent as well. It could've been worst coz the behind-the-scenes commentary said their original male lead was Kevin Costner. No offence but I don't think he would've pulled it off. He's too 'The Bodyguard' if you know what I mean.

The love story is just a sub-plot and was so subtly done and there are no mushy lovey-dovey sequences to make your eyes roll. It's just a simple story about two people bonded by their common passion but whilst one chooses to act it out whole-heartedly, the other keeps a silent but burning fire for it. Now, that's love!

One commentator here said that this movie doesn't do any justice for the refugees and the victims but I must say that no movie can. Even if you do visit these places to see for yourself what really goes on, you have a choice - you can leave whilst these people don't so unless you are in that exact same position, I think nobody should ever try to comment about it because it's something I don't think none of us in developed countries can ever truly understand. Besides, this movie is about the volunteer workers and what they have to go through and the love story between the two leads as the backdrop to distract us from the painful realities depicted in the movie. I don't really agree with some inaccurate plots in certain movies but I don't know the 110% truth about this movie so I just accept it and then find out more about it if I want to. It's something you can't expect from movies anyway coz movies are not supposed to educate but just to entertain and maybe enlighten us a little. You want a 100% accurate show, then go watch National Geographic.

All in all, the filmmakers of Beyond Borders deserve some credit for trying to tell a story different from the rest of the junk playing in the cinemas nowadays. Some of you might have felt they didn't really succeed but I still think they gave it their best shot. Now, you have to give them at least that!

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68 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

The Point

10/10
Author: laratringem from New York
2 April 2005

Most people are missing the point. This movie has power, from the first scene of the camp in Ethiopia. Maybe the acting wasn't spectacular, no, and neither was the plot. And yes it was strange to see a piano in the desert. But that is not the point. The point is this is really happening, and has been happening for far too long. That people everyday really do risk life and limb to help other humans who have no choice but to go through life living that risk as a reality. The point of this movie is to connect to the viewer, to ask the viewer to recognize that more needs to be done, that more can be done.

Reading an interview with Angelina Jolie inspired me when I was 17 years old to go into a life of service. I will be joining the Peace Corps when I graduate college in 2006. Hopefully, I will be deployed to Senegal to help in small business development. Now, after reading about the genocide in Rwanda in a book entitled "Shake Hands with the Devil" by Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, I am convinced that I can do something, anything, at least on some level. I hope the film, rather than being perceived as good or bad, will inspire others all the same.

So what if the movie wasn't Oscar caliber? At least the refugee and continuing conflict situations have been brought to light in another way, brought to more people's attention. Instead of debating the film's merits we should be out there doing something right now. Whether it's calling the attention a local politician, learning on our own, writing an opinion piece for a newspaper, teaching our children tolerance and understanding, or donating money to a worthy cause. More can be done so easily.

BBC Interview with Angelina Jolie: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/3808501.stm

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36 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Gritty, real, and yet not preachy

10/10
Author: adrianthewlis from san rafael, california
25 October 2003

I think they did a magnificent job of showing the stark, gritty, in-your-face reality of life for many people in our world. It wasn't glorified, it wasn't scandalized, there were no quick fixes. Just people struggling to help the handful they can. This is what it's really like.

In addition, the way the arms-smuggling angle was covered was also very deftly handled. It wasn't condoned, the problems, the reasons, the advantages and the consequences were all demonstrated. But at the end of it all the viewer is simply left with the question "so what do you do?"... they sure weren't going to hand over a half-digested pat answer.

Every so often a movie comes along that shows us how "the other half lives", movies like The City of Joy, Baraka, Salaam Bombay. I'd put Beyond Borders in that category. Perhaps not quite as brutally true-to-life as the former, but I think the love-story aspect may pull in some viewers that would otherwise not go anywhere near such sights, and that, I think, is a very good thing.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

An inspiring, yet heart-breaking film, worthy of being called a real tribute to relief workers and others around the world who try to help others in seemingly hopeless situations and places...

10/10
Author: Matthew McLelland (dbz4lifemm) from Guelph, Ontario, Canada
29 May 2004

This was a great film! How anyone else can say otherwise is beyond me... I think it is a fine tribute to relief workers and others around the world who both in the present and in the past have risked their lives (and I am sure many a time their sanity) trying to lend a hand in hopeless, horrible places and situations (where people are starving to death, or are displaced because of war, or are dying of preventative diseases, etc. etc. etc.) Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen are spectacular, and portray very well the constant obstacles and risks involved with just SIMPLY TRYING TO HELP OTHERS IN NEED AROUND THE WORLD (whether it be trying to acquire funding from rich and powerful people and countries, or having to negotiate with warlords and governments just to get supplies through, etc., etc.). The movie is never "over-the-top" or "unrealistic" and stays very grounded and real throughout the whole thing. ABSOLUTELY A "10" ON ANY SCALE!

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51 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

What an eye opener !!!!!

10/10
Author: stelco from South Africa
9 January 2005

I did not know what to expect when I rented this DVD I was intrigued by the write up on the cover. Well I thought that the story in general was very appropriate after what has happened in Asia and the war in Irac. I think that people are very much unaware of what is going on in these countries and it is too easy to sit and watch CNN and SKY and say what a shame and then switch off and go on with their lives (Me Included). I thought that the movie was very real and the fact that there was a love story made it even more real because I'm sure that there are many real aid workers who have experienced the same things. It makes fore more excitement with all the different countries and situations. Showing us that it is not only a problem isolated to one country or one race of people. This movie made me sit up and think about the situations of the World and my own Country. I say thank you to the the actors (Angelina Jolie; Clive Owen),directors,writers,crew and all the folks involved in the making of this movie. Well Done. I believe all the persons who had something bad to say about this movie, need to take another good look and check to see if they actually have a heart beating in their chest. They are probably last or NEVER in line to give a donation to a good cause. I thank you all for listening.

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46 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Objections to an exploitative film (Some spoilers included)

1/10
Author: corrinadylan from United States
26 March 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I agree with the critics who lambasted 'Beyond Borders', a film with the intellectual depth of an infomercial that portrays starving children to elicit donations. Similarly, the filmmakers' methods undermine their intentions, if their intentions were in fact as noble as many of the other reviewers here seem to think. If they sought to inspire viewer sympathy and support, the filmmakers succeeded. Personally, I feel for the extras exploited in the film, and I support any viewer who stopped watching within the first hour.

If this were merely Angelina Jolie's latest bit of entertaining fluff, I could forgive the film for its shortcomings as a star vehicle designed to exhibit the actress' ample charms. Here, however, Jolie is cast in a serious role as a UN relief worker whose only contributions to the relief effort appear to be her wealth, her compassion, and her ability to strike a pose during a bad situation. I could almost hear Isaac Misrahi cooing at Jolie's miraculously kempt appearance and missionary-chic ensembles. Are we meant to applaud Sarah (Jolie) for not wearing perfume after Nick's ridicule, even when we can see faint traces of mascara on her drooping eyelids as she broods in Chechnya? The attention to Sarah's impeccable appearance detracts from a film that seemingly condemns such superficial concerns in light of human suffering throughout the world. Moreover, it contributes to the overall hypocrisy of a movie meant to galvanize social reflection and reaction through the didactic speeches of its belligerent protagonist Nick (Clive Owen), while exhibiting remarkable indifference to the objectification of the nameless victims that suffer and die in the film so that our love is not for them, but for the named heroes who suffer and die out of pity.

In 'Beyond Borders', the world is a simple place in which the problems of Chechnya, Cambodia, and Ethiopia are conflated to represent Third World issues for which compassion is the panacea. Perhaps if this were true, I could appreciate Sarah's sudden ill-conceived trip to Ethiopia at the beginning of the movie, thus precipitating her future involvement with the UN. Why not admire her for responding to Nick's impassioned plea for more funding at a dinner in London when her peers are cruel and apathetic? For starters, the fact that she is so moved by one incident is more indicative of her obliviousness before the pivotal event than any admirable quality attributed to her reactionary social conscience. Amidst her tears, Nick's speech, and the audience's jeers, a little boy is humiliated to make a point. Worse, a fracas ensues, and his separation from Nick leads to the boy's demise. Sarah's journey to Ethiopia is as senseless as his death, but 'Beyond Borders' seemingly justifies these events by implying that irrationality is at the heart of all worthwhile endeavors. Nick, after all, is as irrational as Sarah. In his recklessness and outrage at the human suffering he encounters as a Third World doctor, Nick is an ineffective negotiator and fundraiser. He is subsequently forced to resort to an uneasy alliance with an insipid trafficker in weaponry and other questionable goods. His actions lead to plot complications involving the relief workers, but the social consequences for the local populations they endeavor to help remain unexplored. Even when Nick later expresses his guilt over the little boy's death, I wonder if we are meant to feel sorry for him or the boy.

Nick is the cynical foil for Sarah's naïve idealist, but, predictably, the initial hostility between them turns to attraction. It's inevitable, I suppose, that the two beautiful do-gooders exchange a few clichéd remarks about the state of the world before tumbling into bed. First, however, they share meaningful glances during Sarah's short stay in Ethiopia. The shipment of provisions she brings with her lasts only a few days, and as her only occupation involves feeding milk to an extremely malnourished boy whom she rescued from certain death, she leaves. Her bedside vigil earns her the respect of the relief workers, but the film does not question the outcome of her actions. It becomes apparent that Sarah's act, along with her mediocre piano playing, is supposed to endear her to Nick. Never mind that her efforts are short-lived and that she abandons the now motherless child to suffer the cruelties of a prolonged existence alone.

What more can we expect from a film that suggests food shortages are the root of famine, evil is the cause of war, and apathy is the sole impediment to social change? If only things were so simple. One of the many problems facing relief efforts is that policymakers are unwilling to explore and fund long-term solutions that have enduring consequences but less immediate results, and thus this film, in its glorification of thoughtless emotion and quick solutions, actually hinders such efforts. Moreover, its neocolonial view of the locals in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Chechnya as savage criminals or helpless victims is derogatory and condescending. These are not people, but stereotypes ripped from the headlines of sensationalist magazines.

This film contends that Sarah, in her facile understanding of the situations she encounters, can somehow rescue the world from its own depravity by accompanying trucks carrying needed supplies across ravaged terrain. What ethnocentric, ignorant conceit to think that she could provide aid without adequate knowledge of the local languages, people, or customs! Then again, all Third World countries are the same in their shared devastation, and Sarah cares, right? Good intentions are no excuse for inexcusable actions or bad film-making. Why doesn't Sarah combat poverty in London or address the needs of her family, which she abandons to endanger her life in reckless pursuit of Nick? The answer's obvious: Then there would be no tragic soap opera against an exotic backdrop of human suffering. It is unfortunate that Sarah and Nick need the exploitation of others to add meaning to their bland love story.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Powerful, affecting, and lingering...

10/10
Author: marieelise0928 from Fairfax, VA
1 November 2003

Perhaps lingering is the wrong word, since as I write this, I only left the theater about 30 minutes ago... But I can still feel my heart clenched in my chest, and my mind is still rolling back and forth over what I've just seen. In my experience, those are the kinds of films that stay with you.

There have been a lot of reviews on both sides as far as Beyond Borders goes, and I think it comes down to knowing yourself as a movie viewer. Beyond Borders presents you with a glimpse of the world, and it asks you to believe in it, to internalize it. If you're the kind of person who can EXPERIENCE a film, rather than just kick back and watch it, than you'll be brushing flies out of your eyes, and jumping at every sudden burst of gunfire. You'll be overwhelmed by the desperation around you, and you'll feel despair, and helplessness, and you'll think "Good for those people who go to Ethiopia/to Chechnya/to Cambodia. I'm so glad someone's helping," and then deep down, you'll be ashamed to realize that you think that just because you elected to see a movie about Relief Workers rather than The Texas Chainsaw Massacres, you deserve some sort of gold star.

And yes, there is the love story. And if you love love stories (as do I) you'll love this one. Again, it comes down to how much you'll let your self believe in a movie, and how much you expect to be convinced. Certainly, I would NEVER accuse Angelina Jolie and Clive Owens of sharing no chemistry, as I was completely unable to breathe during most of the scenes they shared. Both actors excelled in their roles, together and separately.

No, it wasn't fast-paced. It wasn't full of witty acerbic dialogue, or fantastic car chases. There were no jokes about bodily functions. It was just sincere, and powerful, and good (in every sense of the world). Though it was by no means perfect, I gladly rated it a 10 for excellence.

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25 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting point of view

8/10
Author: mar11 from Serbia and Montenegro
18 March 2005

This film subject is very familiar to my country and I know many refuges in personal. I must say that Angelina Jolie made a great job in film and really in personal life like ambassador in UNHCR but I think that people in general form their opinion about some crises in general with big influence of media. The true is very often hidden behind some political or financing interests. This film try to touch this topic but I think that it is not enough. It is very sad that in every part of our life politic and high interest play the role, even when some human lives can be lost. Meny of my people lose their homes and Jobs and some of them their love ones and that is worse what can hap-en to person. Wars is ultimate evil of human race. Today in my country live almost one million refuges. I just want to say that nothing are more important than a human life and everyone must think about that.(sorry about my English)

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