DVD Review – Brokedown Palace (1999)

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June 9, 2015 by Liza Lou

Brokedown Palace (1999) Poster 

I was unsure about this one as I settled down to watch it. I read the synopsis and already discounted it if I’m honest. I mean surely a movie that follows a plot I have seen so many times before starring two young actresses will end up being just mediocre at best right? Wrong actually.. Don’t misunderstand me,  this is not the best movie I have ever seen but as a piece of drama it was definitely better than average.

The two young actresses I mentioned are a 20 year old Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet) and a 26 year old Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) both more or less at the beginning of their careers. They play friends Alice (Danes) and Darlene (Kate) who are arrested (and convicted) for drug smuggling whilst on holiday in Thailand.

I need to start by saying that the chemistry between the two girls is terrific. They have been friends for a lifetime and as a viewer it’s easy to buy into both their similarities and differences that ultimately make the friendship work. I loved the fact that each personality was different with Alice being the bolder of the two and although both actresses held their own throughout the film, for me Danes was absolute stand out.

What makes it interesting for me is that  under the different back drops of each point in story it’s the constant test of their friendship that drives the movie forward. It was refreshing that even though most of the movie was set in a Thai prison there was little reliance on shock tactics from the situation and instead the focus was always on the people involved.

Also starring is Bill Pullman (The Equalizer) as the girl’s American lawyer Hank Greene. I felt uneasy with Hank at first as he teeters on a tightrope between being phony and the real deal which Pullman plays this brilliantly, kick starting the thrill aspects within the drama. Unfortunately though Greene always feels like a bit part against the strength of the two main characters and I would have loved a little more development. It’s worth stating here that the movie seems a little short and a bit more time added could of allowed extra depth in characterisation.

The movie has a pace that sometimes lacks subtlety but there’s enough twists to keep it more than interesting. Sure, there’s a couple of head scratching moments but there is also enough questions (both deliberate and not) to keep us both guessing and thinking. Overall Brokedown Palace is a good piece of drama, written well and acted even better. It has enough balls not to water down the conclusion and the story skips along nicely enough to get us there.

Good stuff!

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