Alice (Danes) and Darlene (Beckinsale) take a high school graduation trip to Bangkok, but are nabbed with drugs planted by heroin runner Nick (Lapaine). They protest their innocence, but receive long sentences after Alice is conned into signing a confession. Hopes of a speedy release are dashed, the efforts of family and friends prove fruitless, so the young women are forced to settle down to serve their time. This far from passive experience rapidly exposes the differences in their characters and brings to a crisis their notions of trust, belonging and loyalty. Topical, in the UK at least, this revisits every Western backpacker's nightmare: their own private Midnight Express. Complex issues are raised and, true to form, director Kaplan reduces them to 'issue movie' proportions. But that said, and setting aside the possibly racist representations, the film exerts a fascination. The open possibility that one of the women may in fact be guilty is an intriguing intellectual catalyst. However, Alice's underwritten role is made to carry an unreasonably heavy burden, and it's a credit to the excellent Danes that she carries it off so lightly.
Cast and crew
Lou Diamond Phillips