For a friend's life

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German title For a friend's life
Original title Return to Paradise
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1998
length 112 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Joseph Ruben
script Wesley Strick ,
Bruce Robinson ,
Pierre Jolivet (original script),
Olivier Schatzky (original script)
production Alain Bernheim ,
Steve Golin
music Mark Mancina
camera Reynaldo Villalobos
cut Craig McKay ,
Andrew Mondshein

For the life of a friend (Original title: Return To Paradise ) is an American drama by director Joseph Ruben , from 1998. The screenplay was based on the template by Pierre Jolivet for his 1989 film The Freedom Prize .


The film tells the story of three friends who spent a vacation in Malaysia together. While “Sheriff” and Tony returned to New York, Lewis stayed to help rescue orangutans. Two years later, Beth Eastern appears as Lewis' attorney to Sheriff and Tony to persuade them to return to Malaysia. The three friends had carelessly thrown a borrowed bike into the bush. The owner then filed a complaint for theft. After the Sheriff and Tony left, the police searched their apartment, which was now occupied by Lewis alone, and found hashish that belonged to all three of them. Due to the slightly excessively high amount, he is now considered a dealer by the authorities and has spent the last two years in prison in Malaysia. In eight days he will now have the final execution of his death sentence.

However, due to an oral agreement between Beth and the local judiciary, there is a possibility for the former friends to save his life: If Tony and Sheriff surrender and serve their three-year share (if only one: then six years) in the dungeon there . This decision is anything but easy for them. Tony has a successful career and is starting a family. Sheriff works as a chauffeur for a noble company. One hears nothing good about the conditions in the prisons in Malaysia. Beth is being followed by the press, and it turns out that she is not Lewis' lawyer but his sister.

Tony feels betrayed about it and refuses to accept the prison sentence. He returns home and it is up to the Sheriff to save Lewis. A romance begins between Sheriff and the attractive Beth, although it is not clear whether Beth gets involved with Sheriff out of real affection or just to get him to save her brother's life.

Sheriff is about to go to prison when a particularly ambitious journalist writes an article about the case and harshly denounces the conditions in Malaysia. As a result, a large crowd of Western journalists gathered in front of the courthouse shortly before the verdict was to be pronounced and reported on the Malaysian judiciary in a very negative way. Thereupon the judge, outraged by the negative Western press, decides to make an example: he breaks the agreement and Lewis is hanged.

Sheriff is taken to jail where he has to serve his part of the sentence. He can watch the execution from his cell window and accompanies Lewis on his last walk with emotional shouts. When Beth visits Sheriff in prison and the two of them talk about Lewis, they assert their love for each other, and after she takes the body of her brother to America, Beth promises Sheriff to fly back to Malaysia to meet him immediately afterwards waiting. Now it turns out that Beth does have real feelings for Sheriff and has not only tried to buy the affection for Sheriff because of her brother. Beth finally manages to get Sheriff out of prison. After a few weeks in prison, he should be able to return to America without major complications. Beth will be with Sheriff for life.


James Berardinelli compared the film on ReelViews with the film Red Corner . He praised the performance of Anne Heche and criticized the, in his opinion, weak ending.

Roger Ebert praised the portrayals of Anne Heche and Jada Pinkett Smith in the Chicago Sun-Times of August 14, 1998 . He asked how the Sheriff might feel if his friend died but his sentence was cut. Ebert compared the film to the 1978 film Noon Midnight Express starring Brad Davis.

“A conventional political thriller, only superficially interested in human rights issues, which criticizes the Islamic regime in Malaysia for its draconian penalties for drug offenses. Nevertheless, the tension develops rather from a foreseeable repertoire of personal conflicts, which ultimately also cause the interest in the subject - which is clearly evidenced by xenophobia - to wane. "

“After the bland Hitchcock remake" Psycho ", Anne Heche and newcomer Vince Vaughn appear together again on the screen. What starts out relatively relaxed and lively is lost more and more in a somewhat confused judicial drama. "



Anne Heche and Joaquín Phoenix were nominated for the Hungarian Csapnivaló Prize in 2000. The German Film and Media Assessment FBW gave the film the rating of particularly valuable.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Review by James Berardinelli
  2. ^ Review by Roger Ebert
  3. For a friend's life. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed June 7, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  4. ^ For the life of a friend on , accessed on October 19, 2011
  5. Profile at (English; accessed on April 11, 2014)
  6. Overview ( Memento of the original from February 17, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. at (accessed April 11, 2014)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /