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Edge of the World film review

★★

Directed by #MichaelHaussman

Written by #RobAllyn


 


Director Michael Haussman’s biopic shows his background in music videos. Edge of the World is a sexy, dreamy kaleidoscope of tropical imagery, but as a narrative, it’s quite hard to follow.

Which is too bad, as the ripped-from-your-history-textbook story is pretty interesting in a white dude trying to “civilize” an existing culture sort of way.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Vikings, the Tudors) smolders as he plays Sir James Brooke, an Indian-born British subject who has failed to live up to proper Victorian expectations. He hopes to make a name for himself by making a great discovery on the island of Borneo as part of the Royal Geographical Society. Instead, he manages to get himself made rajah of a jungle kingdom.


This involves a bit of political maneuvering among different tribes from Borneo and folks from Singapore and, I think based on costume and hairstyle choices, China. But Haussman doesn’t linger long enough to give us much of a sense of the complexities of the alliances, the individuals involved, or what the stakes are.


Because of this, as much as the film seems to want to sell the audience on having witnessed some sort of character arc from Sir James, this isn’t actually achieved. We have no insight as to the motivations of characters except for the occasional voiceover from Sir James.


The movie feels like a slog through the same marshy landscapes the characters so often maneuver through on the screen, with the occasional burst of beauty to take in along the way.



 

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