Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Brave One: Angry young woman misfires

Genre: Drama
Director: Neil Jordan
Cast: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews
Storyline: A woman attacked goes on a termination spree.
Bottomline: Jodie kills Bill, Tom, Dick, Harry and shoots every other bad guy in town.

What happens when you try to explore the angry-young-man-angst towards a near-dysfunctional inefficient system, through a woman protagonist? You get ‘The Brave One’.

Conventionally, in the movies, women are only known to avenge personal wrongs. Or kill husbands who abuse or boyfriends who cheat. People they love, as a detective in the film observes.

This film’s only stake to your 200 bucks is that it marks the arrival of the female vigilante with a grudge against the system.

Jodie Foster kicks it like nobody’s business. Now, if only the storytelling matched the earnestness in her performance. It never seems like a film anyone would take seriously.

That’s primarily because in spite of the dark moody narrative and constant rambling through hushed voiceovers that remind you of a ‘Night’ Shyamalan film, this script relies too much on co-incidence to take the story forward.

How much disbelief can you possibly suspend when a wronged radio jockey goes back on air live to pour her heart out, emotionally connects with the man who seems to be investigating hers and every other case in town, and instinctively narrows her down to be the killer because of an elevator bell he heard when she hung up the phone while talking to him one night when she didn’t get sleep. This is too easy, man.

Minus the pretentious blabber that tries hard to sound profound and meaningful, this might have actually worked as a hardcore racy action film or a tight psycho thriller. But the makers are more ambitious.

They want to make it a meaty socio-political thriller. Hence, the screenwriters load it with gender politics by empowering a feminist angry-young-woman out to cleanse the system of evil lecherous men and then add to it the dimension of gun-culture and morality of vigilante executions associated with the genre.

Apparently, it was Jodie’s idea to be a radio host, compared to the journalist the writers wanted her to be. We don’t know what else the star brought to the table, but ‘The Brave One’ is just another trigger-happy Hollywood assembly-line revenge film, one that Vijayshanthi would have done in the nineties. Or maybe did.


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