Making the Grades
In his youth, Adam Fields the producer of Brokedown Palace, traveled the world staying in hostels. In many countries he noticed posters hanging in coffee houses encouraging American tourists to visit compatriots that had been imprisoned, sometimes falsely, on drug charges. While he visited these people at that time, it wasn't until a return trip to Thailand ten years ago that he found these visits particularly unnerving, leading him to co-write this movie.
Like many post high school grads, Alice (Claire Danes) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) want to see the world. Thailand seems the right mix of vacation and adventure. Their tight budget doesn't allow for accommodations with a pool, so the more daring Alice convinces Darlene that they can sneak a swim at a luxurious hotel. Trouble threatens when Alice tries purchasing drinks using a fake room number, until the alluring Nick (Daniel Lapaine) steps in to save them. Darlene is especially captured by his charm.
Nick persuades them to expand their holiday plans by following him to Hong Kong. When they arrive at the airport they are quickly arrested by Thai police. It appears the girls were unaware their backpacks had been stuffed with drugs. Immediately thrown in jail, the pair pin their hopes for exoneration on their fathers and an American lawyer practicing in Thailand.
Parents are strongly urged to view this film before showing it to older children. Although the depicted prison isn't intensely inhumane, Alice resorts to smoking drugs to alleviate her despair. Language also flares during tense moments, including an occasion when Darlene vulgarly asks Alice if she had sex with Nick.
This poignant story of friendship holds a secondary (and perhaps unintended) bonus. Alice's rebellious past, which has been filled with half-truths and minor infractions, is not only used against her in court, but provides her friends and family reason to question her alleged innocence at a time when she desperately needs their support. For parents of teens who insist on pushing their limits, without regard to possible consequences, this facet of the story may be a valuable discussion starter.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Brokedown Palace.
What could Alice have done differently that would have saved her from the plight she faces in this movie? In court, evidence of character is a major factor in deciding guilt or innocence. How did her past misdemeanors effect her eventual outcome? Was it fair that these incidents were brought against her?