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One of my perennial favs in terms of Movie Ministry or Cinema Catechesis is the 1999 flick Brokedown Palace.  It seems that not a lot of people have heard of this film that stars Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman, with even a few appearances by Lou Diamond Phillips.  I promise, it’s worth taking a look at – and there’s enough suspense, that it’s not to “chick flicky” for most guys.

It starts off simple enough, two girls graduate high school and head out for their senior trip. Darlene (Beckinsale) is “the good one” and the other, Alice (Danes) of course, “the bad one.” This movie is about trust & true friendship.  First, the two girls, supposedly headed to Hawaii for their senior trip, decide to switch gears and head off to Thailand, in search of the exotic and thrilling.  But, the girls learn that nothing is as it seems.

Which girl was guilty – even if unknowingly so? Many make assumptions of who is actually to blame. Was it the bad one? Was it the naive one? Or, was it neither of them, but the work of some con artist?  Is their lawyer (Pullman) a help or a hurt?

We work and work to try to figure that out, but does it matter – especially when both girls are paying the price? You never know quite who to trust in the movie. Sometimes you think all the characters are playing each other. But, ultimately it doesn’t matter. There is no such thing as “reasonable doubt” in Thailand, and the time will be done, regardless.

So, what would you do if you and your best friend were in prison together? What would you do if you thought it was your friend’s fault you were there? What if you’d been the one tricked? Would you still care?

So now that we’ve been made to think about the “what ifs”, what lessons do we learn here?

1.  Don’t lie!  The girls lied about where they were going, making it harder to get help once they realized they were in trouble.  They snuck into a hotel and lied about being guests there – which got them caught, and put in contact with a guy we later learn is a drug trafficker, despite his incredibly charming appearance who obviously lies to them.

2.  Be on guard.  It may sound silly – but at so many turns the girls might have avoided some of the punishment they got.  But, they think they know it all, are so busy looking for aventure, that they are careless.

3.  Know who your friends really are.  Those that are charming may look polished and talk smoothly, but are they going to be there for you when you need it?  Who are the most important people in your life?  Are they good influences or bad?  Don’t get me wrong, as this movie portrays, there isn’t always a clear line here.  Sometimes we need someone who’s a little wild in our lives – sometimes we’re the wild ones.  How do those closest to us help us grow, or hold us back?

4.  One thing I applaud the girls on, most especially our bad girl Alice, is in looking out for a friend.  Darlene may be “the good one” but she appears to be quite naive and barely able to watch out for herself in this strange place.  The two girls have a spat over a boy, but still it appears that Alice is more concerned about her friend than anything.  Alice is the strong one and is constantly trying to help Darlene deal with the mess they’re in; they are picked on by guards and prisoners, Darlene’s father shows up and reiterates to Alice what a horrible person he thinks she is and how he blames her for this situation his daughter is in and Darlene gets very ill.  Even at a point when Darlene isn’t speaking to Alice, Alice stays with her and shows she’s willing to offer the biggest sacrifice.

What parallels can you make to scripture with this one – self-sacrifice, for sure.  It’s hard to really discuss this aspect without ruining the ending for you.  Which I really don’t want to do.  You may already be able to guess what happens by what I’ve said and not said here. But, it’s a good movie, suspenseful, with a great message, not just about trust, but also friendship.

For more information check out http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120620/

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