[MOVIE REVIEW]Cheer up, refugees: Angelina’s coming

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Cheer up, refugees: Angelina’s coming

What a career it’s been for Angelina Jolie:
“Girl, Interrupted”: Played charismatic mental patient. Stole every scene she was in, which wasn’t surprising, since most of them were opposite Winona Ryder, who was preoccupied with trying to pass for a 17-year-old. Jolie won an Academy Award, placing her in Oscar’s “future embarrassments” category along with Roberto Benigni and the year they gave it to “Gandhi” over “E.T.”
“Original Sin”: Played mail-order bride who is Not What She Seems. Sex scene with Antonio Banderas was so unconvincing that it would have embarrassed the Spice Channel.
“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”: Played breasts with British accent and dogsled.
“Life or Something Like It”: Didn’t see it, because by this point someone would have had to medicate me before I’d sit though another one of her movies, unless I really wanted to get out of the office for an afternoon, which brings us to:
“Beyond Borders,” opening today, in which she plays a rich wife whose social conscience is awakened by a doctor (Clive Owen) with dashing chest hair.
The doctor crashes a London charity ball for a relief agency, attended by Jolie and her husband (Linus Roache), who is one of those blank movie husbands so obviously destined to be replaced in their wives’ affections that you can almost see the expiration date on the forehead. Owen storms into the ballroom and makes a scene, accusing the relief agency of not doing enough for starving Ethiopians.
This incident so transforms Jolie that she is no longer the woman she once was. She cannot simply be an affluent white woman in London when children are dying. So 10 minutes later, she’s riding in a truck convoy in Ethiopia, bringing food to the refugee camp where Owen works, though no doubt it’s because she cares and not because of the chest hair, which she hasn’t seen yet.
One of the slightly interesting things about “Beyond Borders” is how it anticipates the charge that it’s the work of narcissists whose main interest in other people’s suffering is how heroic it makes them feel. As soon as Jolie arrives at the camp, Owen cuttingly asks if she’d like her picture taken with a black baby. Remarks are made about the blindingly white hat-and-suit ensemble she arrives in (they must have stopped at a drycleaner’s). But soon she has proven her sincerity to Owen, somehow. Will she touch his tortured heart? One swoons.
The makers of “Beyond Borders” feel so deeply about Ethiopia that after about half an hour, they leave it behind for good and are off to Cambodia. This squal-o-rama concludes in Chechnya, for some reason ― maybe because it’s a nontropical location where Jolie can wear fur. One stock of suffering, nameless natives is replaced by the next; other than our cardboard lovers, the only people given more than a sliver of attention are aid workers, who by all evidence are terrific people, though we might have guessed that anyway. At the end, in fact, the film is dedicated to aid workers in general. Jolie, in real life, is a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador, and has adopted a Cambodian child. So by implication, the movie’s dedicated to her. But we could tell that already.

Beyond Borders
Drama / English
127 min.
Now showing

by David Moll
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