Beyond Borders

Important issues buried in soap opera silliness.
  • Review Date: May 4, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 127 minutes

What parents need to know


Characters killed. There are moments of great cruelty. A man gives a baby a grenade to play with to demonstrate how little he cares for anyone or anything. Intense peril, scenes with starving and severely wounded people, including children.


Non-explicit sexual situations, including adultery.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking and alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has very intense peril and violence and many scenes with starving and severely wounded people, including children. Characters are killed. There are moments of great cruelty. A man gives a baby a grenade to play with to demonstrate how little he cares for anyone or anything. There are non-explicit sexual situations, including adultery. Characters drink, smoke, and use very strong language.

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What's the story?

BEYOND BORDERS follows the romance of two relief workers over a 10-year period. It opens at a fancy fundraiser, where Sarah (Angelina Jolie) is having a nice time dancing with her new husband until Nick (Clive Owen) bursts in and accuses the organization of cutting off his funding. Sarah realizes the superficiality of supporting relief efforts with fancy parties, and empties out her bank account so that she can deliver food to Nick's camp in Ethiopia. He patronizes and ignores her, but is moved by her dedication to a child he thought was beyond help. Four years later, Sarah, working full-time for the UN, unhappy with her husband but devoted to their son, encounters Nick again in a Cambodian camp for Khmer Rouge victims. They meet once more in Chechnya.

Is it any good?


This important and affecting story about relief workers gets buried under a syrupy romance as Jolie and Owen gaze longingly at each other across starving and injured people in three different countries. Director Martin Campbell is much more comfortable with the action scenes than with the romance.

The tension and tragedy and the very different atmosphere of the different locations are vividly portrayed. But the romance serves as a soapy distraction that ultimately does a real disservice to the issues the movie raises and the extraordinary commitment and achievements of the real-life relief workers it attempts to honor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Sarah, Elliot, and Nick decide what compromises they will and will not make.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 23, 2003
DVD release date:March 22, 2004
Cast:Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo
Director:Martin Campbell
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and war-related violence.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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