Brokedown Palace

Ideologically this lurid tale of two American teenage girls (Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale) who wind up in a Thai prison on a manufactured drug charge is every bit as xenophobic as Midnight Express, though it’s not nearly as compelling (the storytelling is sluggish) nor as pornographic. Just about every Thai is depicted as evilthe exception is the wife of an expatriate American lawyer played by Bill Pullmanwhich is pretty disgusting but typical of how American movies deal with this corner of the globe. The revisionist approach to this sort of material proposed by the excellent 1998 Return to Paradise, about the imprisonment of Americans on drug charges in Malaysia, is nowhere in sight. Director Jonathan Kaplan clearly has a feel for the material, but he’s at the mercy of a pedestrian script by David Arata and producer Adam Fields. (JR)

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