Beyond Rangoon

on August 25, 1995 by Kim Williamson
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"The trip was Andy's idea," says American physician Laura Bowman (Patricia Arquette) of the plan by her sister (Frances McCormand) to help Laura escape her domestic tragegy (husband and son murdered) by bringing her to Burma in August 1988 for some rest. "She meant well." Instantly, Laura becomes caught up in that time's countrywide protest against a brutal military regime and finds herself fleeing for Thailand with dissident professor named U Aung Ko (played by Bur-mese expatriate actor U Aung Ko), students, monks and other innocents as government soldiers try to kill all of them before they reach the border.
British director/co-writer John Boorman ("Hope and Glory," "The Emerald Forest") brings a resolute passion to this Castle Rock production, as does Arquette. The script, however, doesn't keep pace; in place of the backstory on Laura Bowman we need to understand why this woman undertakes her dangerous odyssey, the script races forward with action sequences better suited to co-writer Alex Lasker's earlier "Firefox." Also, the film's political theme is presented as dogma; one longs for a little looseness, like the boy exulting "thank you, Adolph!" for the Luftwaffe's destruction of his school in "Hope and Glory." There's even some bad looping. However, even working in a minor key Boorman is always interesting, and his efforts here are nicely aided by the Asian-tinged flute and bell music of scorer Hans Zimmer and cinematographer John Seale's orange-hued images. Starring Patricia Arquette and U Aung Ko. Directed by John Boorman. Written by John Boorman, Bill Rubenstein and Alex Lasker. Produced by John Boorman, Barry Spikings and Eric Pleskow. A Columbia release. Drama. Rated R for depiction of violent political oppression. Running time: 99 min
Tags: Starring Patricia Arquette and U Aung Ko. Directed by John Boorman. Written by John Boorman, Bill Rubenstein and Alex Lasker, Produced by John Boorman, Barry Spikings, Eric Pleskow, Columbia, Drama
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