Beyond Rangoon (1995): John Boorman’s Exotic Political Melodrama

Columbia (Castle Rock Entertainment)


The heart and intent of John Boorman’s exotic political melodrama (which he also produced) are in the right place, but the narrative is rambling, and the characterization is flawed, lacking any credibility—-even by Hollywood’s standards.


Tormented by the tragic events of her past, young American doctor Laura Bouman (Patricia Arquette) and her sister Andy (Frances McDormand) travel to the Far East on vacation.  When Laura’s passport is stolen, she embarks on a dangerous ‘unofficial tour,’ during which she learns the true meaning of friendship and courage and rediscovers in herself a powerful will to live.


Boorman is a good director and so the movie is well-produced with impressive production values and lush cinematography, which only partially help to ground this melodrama in a particular historical and political context.


Broadly speaking, the movie belongs to the sub-genre of “Naïve American Abroad.” 


A colleague of mine dismissed the film as “Beyond Rangoon is Beyond Belief.”