Brokedown Palace Jonathan Kaplan

Brokedown Palace Jonathan Kaplan
Just to get it out of the way, yes, the depiction of Thai prisons in Brokedown Palace is mildly amusing, as is the strained voiceover framing device of a recorded plea from prisoner Alice Marano (Claire Danes) to opportunistic American lawyer Hank Green (Bill Pullman). But this isn't so much a story about highlighting the quality of prisons in a foreign country, even though the actual narrative of the film beats the living tar out of the Thai justice system sanctimoniously, rather it's about the complexities of friendship and the importance of being understood. Alice was always the bad influence on daddy's girl prude Darlene (Kate Beckinsdale), which is why their little Thai vacation, which they embarked upon by telling parents they were going to Hawaii, seemed transparent to Darlene's dad, after they were arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into Hong Kong. Presumably, it was Alice who tried to traffic the goods, in an effort to sway the affections of Australian douche Nick (Daniel Lapaine) from Darlene, or maybe it was Darlene's effort to assert her identity, however misguided. The film never really lets us know, although we can make an educated guess, since both girls play their cards close, even when Alice takes the rap, demonstrating a love for her friend that she's repeatedly swayed from the wholesome path. This mostly forgotten release was also proof that Claire Danes' impressive performance on My So-Called Life wasn't a fluke. She's actually a smart actress with the range to tackle conflicted, damaged characters, which now is abundantly clear to anyone that has seen Homeland. Oddly enough, Brokedown Palace was the last feature film directed by Jonathan Kaplan, whose resume included an endless array of compelling films featuring complex female leads (The Accused, Unlawful Entry). It's a shame, since he has more to offer than the television tedium he's been engrossed in for the last decade. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with this release, making it mostly irrelevant, save its inevitable discount rack status. (Anchor Bay)