Published Oct 01, 2003Beyond Borders is one of those rare films that is actually about something. And as those films tend to do, this one is bound to inspire people for change, as they inspired Angelina Jolie in her much-publicised role as an UN ambassador. It was one fear that this film would be little more than a thinly veiled commercial for humanitarian efforts, but the strength of the two leads helps propel Beyond Borders' personal side as well.
Directed by kiwi Martin Campbell of GoldenEye fame (after Oliver Stone backed out), Beyond Borders is the story of Mrs. Sarah Bauford. A young bride, Sarah (Angelina Jolie) is at a benefit in London with her new husband Henry (Linus Roache) when Dr. Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) bursts through the crowd clutching a malnourished boy and making a plea for aid for his relief camp in Ethiopia. While Callahan and his young charge are unceremoniously dismissed, Sarah is shaken. Shortly thereafter she cashes in her savings for supplies and accompanies the deliveries to Ethiopia, beginning a relationship with the aid workers there that will continue throughout her life. Teri Polo as Sarah's sister Charlotte and Noah Emmerich as Dr. Callahan's friend and fellow aid worker Elliot Hauser round out the cast.
A powerful film, it is also something of a mystery. Whether or not it is a realistic portrayal of government and NGO relief workers is only for those people to say, though sensationalism is obviously present in a confrontation with the Cambodian Khmer Rouge and in Chechnya. The characters are also something of a mystery. We know Sarah is a sweet, well-intentioned woman, but we know little else aside from the fact that she has a sister who is also globally-conscious. And Dr. Callahan remains a complete mystery. We don't know anything about his background, his family, or where this passionate desire to save the world comes from. It's also not clear where Sarah and Dr. Callahan's passionate desire for each other comes from, but Jolie and Owen display a depth of emotion that makes us believe in it. (Paramount)