Movie Magazine International

Brokedown Palace

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

"We're from Ohio, for God's sakes!"

This plead sums up the plight of "Brokedown Palace" a new film that may bring an upgrade in thought to the term "woman in prison flick." Though Jonathan Kaplan directs the film, it is the overseas experiences of the producer, Adam Fields that cast a knowing shadow over the story.

She may be young and pretty but Claire Danes is an old soul; never has that been more evident than in this film. Danes plays Alice, a wild, streetwise teenager with a thirst for freedom and adventure. Presented as a perfect blend of yin and yang, dark and light, is her more reserved best friend, Darlene, played by the entrancing Kate Beckinsale. Alice and Darlene have been together since they crawled across the lawn to one another as neighbor babies, united as partners ever since.

Upon high school graduation, the two plan a trip to Hawaii together until Alice decides that's much too pedestrian. Why not Thailand? Their parents don't have to know - okay, that part I don't get, I mean, how are they getting to the airport? How did they get the tickets?

So they're having the time of their lives until a cute Australian seduces both of them and persuades them to meet him in Hong Kong. He'll pay for their little side-trip . . c'mon, it'll be fun, blah, blah, blah. At the airport, the Thai police come down on them, sirens and all, only to find 6 kilos of heroin in Alice's backpack. Boom, they're in a Thai prison.

It's now a common fear expressed in cinema, getting helplessly thrown into a foreign prison, especially for our "But I'm an American!" sensibilities - I think "Midnight Express" solidly instilled that for an entire generation. Funny how everyone loves to hate our government until nasty situations like this happen.

Bill Pullman does a so-so job as Yankee Hank, the expatriate lawyer who tries to spring them. Unfortunately, it's the superb actress, Jacqueline Kim, who comes across stronger as Hank's wife and legal partner, Yon. They could've easily left Hank out.

An effective and scary film, "Brokedown Palace" isn't afraid to be ugly and untidy. The moral? Your brain, don't leave home without it.

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 8/18/99

"Movie Magazine International" Movie Review Index

"Movie Magazine International" Home Page