Beyond Borders (2003) Poster

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9/10
It's gratifying that movies like this are still being made
sarastro723 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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Sad but as realistic as can be
mahajanssen23 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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10/10
Powerful, affecting, and lingering...
marieelise09281 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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10/10
Stunned
project_x515 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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10/10
The Point
laratringem2 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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10/10
Definitely recommend BEYOND BORDERS to anyone who wants to be inspired beyond their own border.
lolitaloo200024 April 2004
Beyond Borders brings to light the very realistic struggles of the millions of refugees created by war and the valiant efforts of aid workers who contribute to their survival in spite of overwhelming odds. The storyline of crossing your life's borders away from a comfortable life to help other struggling human beings is a story worth being told. In this type of humanitarian experience, every aid worker I have come into contact with has described the experience as extremely enriching. I'm saddened most of America did not embrace this subject matter at the box office. We, as Americans, live a very comfortable life comparatively, and perhaps it's out of fear, complacency or just selfishness that we generally do not cross borders to help fellow human beings. This attitude does not make us very popular around the world, but perhaps if more people become aware and did something to help other people in their struggles, the world would be a better and safer place to live.

As a journalist who covered the Afghan / Soviet war, recently watching the "Making of" on the DVD was compelling to see how the filmmakers made something so realistic without putting their cast or crew in harms way. I hope this film will be embraced as a DVD so that studios will continue to make films of solid subject matter. Angelina Jolie was well-cast in this role for she (in real life) is the Ambassador for the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR). She brought much passion into this role, and while she appeared a little "girlish" initially, the character had to grow out of her pampered life for us to follow her across the borders both real and metaphoric. I am pleased she was brave enough to embrace such a role, and hope she will continue to grow in her range of acting choices. Noah Emmerich reminded me of a very gentle Aid worker I knew killed on the job, which tugged at my heart strings. While Clive Owen's portrayal of a man who closes off his heart to survive the cruelty of every day life in the war zone is accurate, for the general public who has probably not lived through these extreme conditions, it's difficult to empathize or care. I'm sure that is why there might be a general dislike of this character. For a handful of my friends, the romantic connection was unrealistic, but in reality if you're living day to day in such extreme conditions and you're friend dies, you'll let down your guard just to feel alive. I'm sure a lot of people had sex just after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The excellent production design, cinematography and poignant music moved the story forward, but while I loved this subject matter, I also felt the transitions between three very distant locations caused the film to feel somewhat disjointed. Perhaps that was due to "behind the scene" budget constraints (maybe some transition scenes were cut before they could shoot them) or perhaps some studio executive was pushing the film out to theaters before the cut was ready because the investors were crying out for their ROI. Who knows what the politics were...

Either way, I liked the film, am going to buy the DVD and will definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to be inspired beyond their own border. I certainly was.
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10/10
Take my breath away!
tkrasnowski30 October 2003
I literally gasped out loud in the movie theatre when Jolie's character went up to the African child to rescue him from the vulture. That child's face gives new meaning to the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". That face epitomizes what the horror of war and famine really means in terms of human suffering.

I went to see this movie because I really enjoy watching Angelina Jolie perform, despite the distraction of her oversized lips. I think she is an excellent actress and I'm never bored when I see her on the big screen. Paired up with Clive Owen, I thought the chemistry between the two of them sizzled. I'm wondering what those who voted less than 7 for this picture expected to see when they viewed this movie or even if they did see it.

I thought this movie was great and despite the horrible circumstances and the tragic ending, I left the theatre feeling I had been very entertained. I gave it a 10 and look forward to seeing it again when it comes out on video.
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10/10
Beyond Great
strizzy_25 October 2003
This movie leaves you speechless, and takes you to a new emotional level. I feel this movie will not reach people like it should though... People and Middle America will pass it off and just play it up as Hollywood hype and just really not want to acknowledge what is happening in the real world... This movie is a 10 and I just hope it can bring light to subject matters that just get pushed under the carpet.
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10/10
Gritty, real, and yet not preachy
adrianthewlis25 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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10/10
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...
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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10/10
A Hidden Gem not to be missed
duncanmethos2 July 2007
I just watched this movie last night and I just have to say WOW.

'Beyond Borders' is such a good movie, the writing is excellent... the story really pulls at your heartstrings.The actors do an amazing job bringing this story to life.

The war violence and the danger were believable and well-done...

I was captivated from the very first frame of the movie... it just draws you in and won't let go.

Some people may not like the ending but I was glad they did it in a realistic way, 'cause this stuff does happen sometimes.

Clive Owen played the stubborn/charismatic/compassionate character wonderfully, I don't anyone could've done a better job.... and Angelina is a wonderful actress, she pours a lot of passion into her character into the movie as well. Its nice when actors just disappear into a role :)

I cannot recommend this movie any higher... It takes its time telling the story, which suits it nicely, but don't turn it off right away, if this movie had been fast-paced, it would've ruined the experience *if that makes sense ;-)*

It's a pity this movie wasn't more well-received at the box office.
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10/10
Amazing movie
annette-11510 February 2007
I am amazed by this movie - I have never ever seen anything before that touched me this much. Being unable to get the picture out of my head, it has changed my view on fugitives and those who do their out-most to help.

First of all, it has changed my perspective on life, thank you for that!!! Secondly it is now perfectly clear to me, why Ms Jolie has chosen to adopt children from Etiophia and Cambodia.

I strongly recommend everybody see this movie - when my children are old enough, they will definitely be forced to watch it too.

What a great movie and a shining star of an actress!
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10/10
Touching and Heartfelt
Raindrop391 July 2006
I happened upon Beyond Borders by chance while looking through the channels on TV. I had never heard of this movie and actually was not familiar with Angelina Jolie nor Clive Owen. I found the movie to be exceptional, educating and inspiring. It brought home so clearly the lives of other people in this world who are living in intolerable conditions and the fact that there are people who do care.

I have watched this movie a number of times and have it on tape to be added to my video library. It touched my heart deeply. I have never sent in a comment about a movie before, but this one was so special to me I wanted to put my feelings in words.

Thanks to all who made this film possible. I will remember it.
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10/10
Makes your realize...
jeremyofmany22 January 2006
I underestimated this movie when I first picked it up. The first 5 minutes blew me away. This is obviously the kind of movie that makes you realize how much you take for granted. I can grab my keys and bank card, walk 5 minutes to the store and buy food, drinks and snacks. When I think about hard it is for those people; dying all the time, weak, fragile, depressed, etc... it rips right into the soul. I even asked my girlfriend if she wanted to go to one of those countries, forget about technology and help people and get a feel for what life is really all about. I think that if my depended on going there and living through such hardship, I would do it. Long story short, it just really makes me think. I give this movie a 10/10 just because I can truly appreciate the concept of the movie, the story being told... I'll tell you one thing, if someone grabbed my arm as they were dying, it would change who I was inside...
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10/10
Never forget what took me a lifetime to learn; you have only one heart, be true to it.
Sariandra23 February 2005
I came into this movie, expecting very little. To be honest, I only rented the movie for the Clive Owen factor.

Both of the people I had known, who had seen the movie - told me it was horrible. I rarely care what other people think.

A few details struck me as irresponsible, and unrealistic - but at heart it was a love story that spanned ten years and several countries. I enjoyed the love story, even though it was underdeveloped.

Clive Owen's portrayal of the emotionally-distant doctor was on the mark. I loved him, and wished that we could have seen more of his story - instead of being teased with bits and pieces. Angelina Jolie was far softer in this role, than the ones we're used to seeing her play.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. It was worth the four dollars I paid to rent it, and made me reconsider my past volunteer work. I recommend that you disregard my opinions, and everyone else's, and rent it yourself.
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8/10
Critics... Beyond Belief
CJ1327 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
(possible spoilers) If you haven't done so already, IGNORE the critics - GO SEE THIS

MOVIE! Beyond Borders is definitely worth seeing. Yes, it is a love story which develops over the course of a dozen years. However, amidst that story, stark and ongoing brutal realities experienced by so many in the world are depicted - and therein lies the importance of this film. It is thought provoking on many levels. On a performance level, the supporting cast filled their roles well. I couldn't help but be drawn into liking particular characters and was especially attentive to a young man's story of his "dance" with a landmine. How haunting. Both Jolie (Sara Jordan, English socialite) and Clive Owen( Dr. Nick Callahan) come through with strong performances. I give credit to director Martin Campbell for respecting the dignity of refugees and using generated images as appropriate, rather than exploiting people unnecessarily . This wasn't meant to be a documentary. Although a few situations might have been developed more realistically (hence 8/10 stars), the movie flowed and kept my full attention despite it's two hour plus length. I found the ending both unexpected and powerful. The imagery of Beyond Borders, both visual and verbal , gives pause for thought : Like Sarah Jordan, aid-relief workers most likely have those in their personal lives who say "don't go, it's not safe there," yet they remain motivated to go anyway. Who are the Dr. Callahans who travel to yet another location once their camp is shutdown - perhaps because of reparation or funding cuts? Why the cuts and what is the full impact? Could more be done? How many workers are injured/killed in the field and how do those situations really come about? Or I know of no place in this country where I might walk and be in danger of stepping on a landmine.... but as I sit in a theater eating popcorn, there is a strong possibility someone, somewhere, did and that happens too often. Maybe the price of that ticket and popcorn once a month could start helping UNHCR or HALO or someone... Yes, entertaining films have their place, but others like Beyond Borders carry the hope of lasting impact. Kudos to all those involved in putting this film together.
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1/10
Distasteful settings for cliché romance.
René Michael Knudsen21 June 2008
You might find this a good movie if you don't get a bad taste in your mouth watching a rather typical old fashioned love story in exotic settings, being played out among relief workers having real life tragedy all around them. If this movie pretends to really care for the unfortunate background characters, that really seems to be there to make our protagonists look heroic, it even does so in a very bad way. At no point are these people introduced to us as other than set pieces, colorful background. They are there to make you forget, that the Jolie character actually seems like an extremely selfish woman. She leaves her husband and later one, then again later two children, to run round the world seeking for true love (not that she cares much for the dying around her either, she's there for her man). And my argument for the romance being cliché? Well have the man first detest the woman (but hey, they are the stars, so we know where they'll end up) and her fighting for his respect (the only time Jolie seems to care for other people is till she gets his attention - again even the character use these unfortunate like props). Then changes of location, one more exotic and strange than the other (By the way, how does Africa look like, is that not something like earth tone color? And Tjetjenia is rather blue and it snows of course and you hear gun fighting every single second. We know the Jungle from Apocalypse Now, so we'll remake that).

All in all boring, but worse distasteful. Only reason for this entry is that i read that Jolie is actually an ambassador for UN and these cases and wonder however she could agree to do this? The film does show some aspects of corruption and politics standing in the way of real aid, and that may be new to many? But far more interesting movies could be made on that subject, we don't need a love story as sugarcoating.
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8/10
Very interesting point of view
mar1118 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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10/10
beyond borders
vali_bm1115 October 2006
When I saw TV-spot for this movie i was really interested about it.Spot was very beautiful and when I saw a movie.... This movie is great.Really. I don't know why it has only 5.9 here on IMDb but this is not enough. It should has at least 8.00. The casting is good. I still think that Angelina's best role is in Girl,Interrupted but she did really good job here.But the best is Clive Owen. In his role we see so much passion, desire, love and he should won something for his role. We can also feel the chemistry between Angelina and Clive. In this movie we see problematic of African people and it hurts so much when you see that.The same is with Cambodia. I think, that you must feel this movie in your heart. See it and If you have just a little open mind, you will feel it, too.
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9/10
Loved it
DayDreamer11196 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was in the library and I saw that this movie had Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie starring in the movie and I just thought, "This must be good." and it was! i didn't cry like i did others, but I came close to tears.I was put into suspense for the whole movie and it was still truly sad.

It starts off with Sarah Bauford (Jolie) playing the piano thinking about the first day she met Nick (Owen). The rest is about how she is so convinced by Nick's plea at the gala that she goes to Ethiopia with 40,000 pounds (the currency, not the metric weight) worth of food for the starving people. Nick and Sarah don't exactly hit right off, but their relationship develops into a love that is only found once in a lifetime. She risks everything and anything, even her life, just to be with him and for him to survive. The ending was sad, but beautiful.

The only thing that was bad about the movie was that it was a one-sided view making the Americans (or rather, the English) look like heroes while the other people look like victims and greedy rulers. It made the Ethiopians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and the Chechens look like bastards that have no soul. if it wasn't for the narrow-mindness and the one sided view point, I might've given it a full ten stars. Of course, you'll have to see the movie for yourself to judge it, I can't really tell you if you'll like it or not.
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9/10
Great film
Xatos8 February 2004
This is a really good film and its sad to see so many bad reviews about it. Its not hollywood action or romance cinema but much better. There is no single serious issue with this film but be warned its pacing is sometimes a bit slow and it deals with some of the saddest matters on this planet so dont watch this if u are already in bad mood!
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9/10
Great movie, but doesn't hit Americas taste
bretho1027 October 2003
You've read the above comments and know what the movie is about. I'm German and saw Beyond Borders in New York. It's a great movie, but not the right movie for American audiences. It's not the typical Hollywood-junk but a movie that makes you think about your of living. In order to enjoy this film, you must be able to think about and may be change the way you're living.
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1/10
Objections to an exploitative film (Some spoilers included)
corrinadylan26 March 2004
Warning: 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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10/10
What an eye opener !!!!!
stelco9 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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1/10
Unfair portrayal
nvsmith9999 March 2005
-I have worked with various government, "super government" (e.g. the UN and regional coalitions) and non-governmental aid agencies for almost 20 years. I had really high hopes for the movie and was absolutely devastated by using a corrupt "aid" worker as the plot for an insipid romance. Many of the camp shots were pretty good; too bad they couldn't capture the smell and the sense of despair. When I first saw Ms. Jolie was now a UNHCR representative I almost dropped my coffee in surprise. It struck me as using a modern Bela Lugosi to spearhead goodwill campaigns for blood drives... or perhaps tax collectors. Yes,there have been corrupt persons using the cover of relief operations to run guns, narcotics, slaves, prostitutes, etc. but they constitute an almost infinitesimal percentage of the total relief effort. Using "Beyond Borders" to learn about relief is like watching "Dumbo" to learn about elephants.
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