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Brokedown Palace

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Brokedown Palace

Starring: Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 1000 Minutes
Release Date: August 1999
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Bill Pullman, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jacqueline Kim, Daniel Lapaine, Amanda De Cadenet, Paul Walker

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

The perky print ads for this gravely earnest drama suggest a cosmetics campaign and, ironically enough, end up painting a more accurate picture of what the film is really like--and, hence, what is so wrong with it. After high school graduation, best friends Alice Marano (Claire Danes) and Darlene Davis (Kate Beckinsale) decide to take a clandestine trip to Thailand, where they meet an affable Australian stranger (Daniel Lapaine) who, after charming them both, frames them for a drug deal. Suddenly both of our heroines are each serving a 33-year sentence in the "Brokedown Palace," and their only hope is an oily American lawyer (Bill Pullman) with a practice in Bangkok.

_Brokedown_Palace_ shares the basic Americans-in-dirty-foreign-prison setting with 1978's _Midnight_Express_ and last year's _Return_to_Paradise_, but that's where the similarities end. The "Brokedown Palace" certainly is brokedown, but, compared to most prisons, it is somewhat of a palace. What horrors do our normally pampered teens face? An involuntary haircut (Alice even admits that she's had worse) and a bitchy, troublemaking inmate who stuffs fish heads in Alice's bedroll and coaxes her into touching some (literally) forbidden fruit. The rest of the time, the prison resembles nothing more than an unusually strict and exceptionally unsanitary day camp. As a result, all drama and suspense is diminished, and then vanquished completely by Jonathan Kaplan's glossy direction (the song soundtrack actually would sound at home in a fragrance commercial) and David Arata's formulaic and unconvincing screenplay.

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