Love among the Ruins
No use denying it. I'm a sucker for old-fashioned epic romances like Gone with the Wind and Dr. Zhivago. Because Beyond Borders features a similar love story set in war-torn surroundings and taking place over many years, it's no wonder I was drawn into this ambitious movie co-starring Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen. Watching two gorgeous star-crossed lovers carry on a relationship while engaging in humanitarian efforts amid the ugliness of famine and bloodshed beats suffering through a flick filled with special effects and crude humor any day -- at least in my book.
Director Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit) describes Beyond Borders as "a story of extraordinary humanitarianism seen primarily through the efforts of two people who come together under horrible conditions and change people's lives -- and the beauty of it all is that while they are helping others, their own lives become enriched."
Jolie's character, Sarah, lives a posh and sheltered life in England in 1984. When she meets the fiery Dr. Nick Callahan (Owen), who crashes a fundraising ball with a starving African boy, Sarah begins to question her priorities. Although recently married, she becomes involved in Dr. Callahan's cause and, over the course of several years, travels to Africa, Cambodia, and Chechnya to help him. She even puts her life in danger to find the doctor when he's reported missing.
Owen (The Bourne Identity) declares, "Though these two people start out on different paths, they come to realize they share a common passion. They actually want to get involved in global concerns and truly want to change things. That's what Nick and Sarah's relationship is based upon and that's what makes their love thrive."
The chemistry between Oscar-winner Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) and Owen grows as the emotional bond between their characters deepens. Both stars managed to make me forget they were Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen for almost two hours -- and, before seeing this movie, I wouldn't have bet that was a remote possibility. Since I interviewed Jolie after her first movie, Hackers, she's become a bigger-than-life Movie Star, and my admiration for Owen goes all the way back to his BBC television gig as a blind detective in Second Sight. This British-born actor is someone to keep an eye on. He comes across on screen as ultra-photogenic, intense and powerful. (Will he be the next James Bond?)
Evidently, Beyond Borders had a tremendous personal impact on Jolie. After reading the screenplay, she became involved in a number of humanitarian causes and, as a result, will be honored by the United Nations with its first-ever United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award.
"We all wanted to do this film because we wanted to shed light on what's happening around the world," Jolie explains. "What we hope to have accomplished with the movie is to explore a passionate relationship between two people dedicated to each other and a cause, while, at the same time raise awareness."
Although Beyond Borders contains some objectionable stereotypes of Third World people, I found it to be an important and moving film.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated "R" for language and war-related violence.)