Friday, September 14, 2007

The Brave Divisive One

Figured I'd throw this post out there as a makeshift discussion forum (have at it in the comments). * For those who've seen Neil Jordan's "The Brave One" * It's tough to really discuss what's wrong with this movie without venturing deep into spoiler territory [see also: my review]. I hate to get all book club discussion notes on you but here's a place to start: the tag line "how many wrongs to make it right?" What exactly are the wrongs... according to the movie that is?

To the comments with you, chatty ones...


Neel Mehta said...

Good idea. Hard to discuss this movie without saying too much. (My review is here.)

The "wrongs" seem to be the events Erica puts herself in after she ventures onto the streets again, and the resulting body count. You get the idea that Det. Mercer follows her line of logic during their recorded interview, and even polishes her rationale with the added gunshot at the end. Not that I agreed with any of it, but people in the audience sure did.

Really, though, someone's gotta talk about those haircuts.


see one of my major problems with it is that i don't think the movie thinks that the body count is a "wrong" --there's never anything but evil emanating from these people.

the movie only seems to take issue with Erica being a little out of control... but damned if it'll specify why that's a problem, you know? there's just no ambiguity.

for all the talk about the events "changing her" shouldn't the resolution have had more of a hard edge? I mean seriously, she is upset about faux shooting Det. Mercer? If these events really hardened her... really put a stranger in her place even with how stupidly it all unfolds couldn't she have shot him without so much teary hesitation?

she's such a good person. she's just killing bad guys you know?


oh and also. it aint just the haircuts that gives one pause in the character of Erica

adam k. said...

Just got back from Jodie's killing spree. You really weren't kidding about the first and second hald. DAMN, I was enjoying the first half, too. Till it just stopped making sense.

To be fair, I only thought it was absurd in fits and starts. A lot of it was really good. But the finale sure didn't help. I was out of it even from "I want my dog back." I mean, she could've said it with a little more conflictedness and pain, if they were going for that. Or else she could've just gone all steely and hard. But I didn't care for the bull-dyke enthusiasm.

And then as soon as Mercer told her to "make sure the gun's legal" I was like "whaaaaaa-" from there on out. Utterly ridiculous. Even if they had to end it that way, they could've been a bit more subtle about it. But hey, the audience was cheering. Now even the good cop's a vigilante! Yay!

And what's with the angelic Sarah McLachlanesque chanting playin over Jodie's voiceover saying "you never go back"??? Cause the music sure sounds like everything's OK. Make up your f**king mind. That was maybe the worst movie ending I've ever seen.

But I really liked the first part. Didn't mind the sex/beating intercutting either... it seemed to be underscoring how nothing was sacred with her anymore... like, now she could only think of death when she thought of him. Anyway, it wasn't as bad as the Munich sex scene.

And for the most part, Jodie and Terrence Howard were GREAT in it. But who wrote this thing??? Jesus. And Neil Jordan really dropped the ball with that ending, too. Damn. What were they thinking?

adam k. said...

You think maybe they changed the ending at the last minute due to test screenings or something? Like, some executive made them tie it all up in a happy little bow and play the angelic music so the audience would like it more? Cause that was WHACK.

adam k. said...

Oops, WACK is spelled without the "h" when it's the slang adjective version. What I just typed was what Jodie did to the guy on the roof. Repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read the comments. Haven't see the movie. All I want to know is that I can finally root for Jodie Foster again when the Oscar comes.

Love her. Is she that great?

- cal roth

Anonymous said...

The movie doesn't present its antagonists as shaded or multi-dimensional. I can at least say about "Falling Down" is that it had characters deeper than this film.


Cal Jodie is good in in but great is a stretch I think. She's awesome in the early post-beating sequences but as the movie goes on and you're supposed to see her become this stranger I think she drops the ball a little, particularly towards the end.

the finale just makes no sense on a character or plot level. If she had really become hardened she shouldn't have been all weep and "i can't do this" -UGH.

it felt a bit to me like my one problem with Julia Roberts in My Best Friends Wedding (though I love the movie and performance otherwise)... she tells us or we hear that she isn't a crier and she's constantly tearing up.

make up your mind about this character. Now!

Anonymous said...

THE ENDING -- just saw the movie and too exhausted mentally and emotionally to write anything of value...but the ending -- I was watching an interview with her, I think it might've been w/Charlie Rose and someone mentioned the ending, then Jodie said the studio and them argued about it, then she changed the topic abruptly. So I'm guessing the studio muscled them out on that one, plus Joel Silver outmuscled them on the title as well, so I really doubt this movie was the one Jodie and Neil set out to make. Too bad. It's a good lesson to Hollywood actresses though - don't work with Joel Silver ex - Halle in Gothika, Nicole in the Invasion, HS in that religious horror movie, and now Jodie in this...


i didn't know that about the ending (possible studio interference) but it's hardly like they were greatly compromised anyway since they never presented erica with any real obstacles or moral problems. at least once could she have
a) made a mistake
b) killed someone who maybe didn't 100% deserve to die and who wouldn't have killed her --that's where you get into the icky "who is this person i've become stuff"... not when you're killing people who actually, um, KILL PEOPLE.

you know...


adam good point on the music. I actually meant to mention it in my review but forgot (couldn't read my notes)

why are they trying to lull us into peace when they've been pretending this isn't peaceful?

this movie ARGH

Anonymous said...

I think the movie completely falls apart because it has a sloppy script and inconsistent direction. The script honestly seems as if there is more than one movie going on at the same time. Terrence Howard and his partner (the only good in the movie) seemed as if their scenes were in an entirely different movie. Not to mention the inconsistencies in the style of direction. One minute there is a disturbing yet artful montage of the bruised bodies at the hospital overlapped with a sex scene. The next we have a tilted camera, bright lights and cliché music as she tries to go outside but can't.

It was a mess to put together I think. And Jodie Foster tried, but you can only go so far with the material you're given.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. Totally absurd movie. And BORING. And POORLY DONE. I was really shocked by the casual disregard for any sort of real conflict or drama. Ooff.

When Eric goes to the pawn shop and the guy says, "Now please get the fuck out of my store," I turned to my friend and said, "Finally, someone who acts like a real New Yorker- Hell, he said PLEASE."

Also... And I was SCREAMING this in my head for the last half hour, I love how that movie's idea of turning Eric into a "conflicted" character is to turn her into John Bon Jovi. I was actually shocked at the end- It was like she was in a Todd Haynes gender-bending Bon Jovi biopic.

Anonymous said...

Just came back from watching The Brave One. The first half and second was good. But came the ending, it seemed a bit contrived. Loved Jodie Foster's peformance, though.

MadHatter said...

The Brave is not at all a good movie.
The premise is interesting, but the main problem, it has absolutely no street cred. My friend called it "Dirty Harry meets the Bridges of Madison County"

who thought of that ending?

adam k. said...

Well, I didn't find the movie boring. Except near the end, where I just couldn't take anything seriously.

Oh, and how about the part where Erica's black landlady/friend/nurse woman randomly comes up to her on the bench and they say:

woman: "You shouldn't smoke, it'll kill you."
Erica: "I don't care."
woman: "There are a lot of ways to die, but finding a way to live, that's hard."

Talk about contrived. They surely could have found a better place to insert that "profound and insightful" line.

And I HATED Terrence Howard's partner. The one who kept cracking jokes on crime scenes. Just a totally inappropriate source of comic relief. Neil Jordan really needed to decide whether he was making a serious drama or a crappy blockbuster, and he never did.

But the studio interference with the ending explains a lot.

adam k. said...

btw, is it weird that I found Terrence Howard really hot in this film? God, I love him. What a dynamo. Can't wait for him to get another oscar nom.

Anonymous said...

You know, in the end I think it was an okay movie. It was not a bad way to spend the evening. My theater was packed and people genuinely seemed to enjoy it.

However, you've all made some great points here about its problems.

The main one being that it felt like different movies probably because aside from the 3 listed writers, there was another writer that rewrote it without credit Ken somebody, and Jodie had to put her insights into her character, and Neil Jordan made some major rewrites as well though he didn't get credit either.

The first part of the movie was probably the Jodie/Neil/Cynthia Mort vision while the last part was the remains from the original script that was sold as female Deathwish.

Nathaniel R -- I think you're right on point there about them not giving her any real moral challenges. When she shoots the pimp and he runs over the teen hooker, I thought that was the direction it was going, but they really dropped the ball on that one.

Lord, it hurts my head to even try to begin a discussion about this. If you take it at face value, it's fine. But if you think too much about it, it just pisses me off because I wanted this to be great.

Also, do you think that Jodie might still get nominated? The B.O. for Friday was mediocre and way under expectations. Honestly I'm a huge Jodie fan and would prefer her to not be nominated than lose to KK. lol

Anonymous said...

Just an afterthought --

Jodie's so great. She doesn't mind her crow's feet on a 20 foot screen on display.

An actress who is "brave" enough to forgo botox AND make-up?

Just give her the Oscar!

adam k. said...

The movie's in the 40%s on RT and will stay there. I don't think Jodie's getting nominated. Especially not if it's not a HUGE hit.

Anonymous said...

I loved "The Brave One", but of course, everything I love has to be "divisive". Eh, eh, eh. Jodie Foster isn't getting nominated for this, but I was entertained and didn't take it beyond a revenge thriller type deal. I could nitpick, but it was great for what it was, and at least it's sparking discussion.

Anonymous said...

I just saw it and I thought the movie was really good, entertainment-wise. And as usual Jodie gives a great performance in a film that's below her.

My God, her career choices are odd, or can she really not find better material?

Interestingly enough, average joe moviegoer who actually bothered to see it, seems to be liking The Brave One quite a lot. It's RT score is more than 30 points higher than the critics and at yahoomovies they've got it at B.

So that seals her fate. If audiences actually like it, then no way can Jodie get a nod. lol

No seriously, I did a quick check of the last 4 years of actress nominations and the RT score their movies got. The lowest was Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson presents at 66%, and the next lowest was Felicity Huffman in TransAmerica, 76%.

A nod seems like a longshot. Even if critics consistenly wrote that she was the only good thing. I'm guessing the only chance she's got now is if other potential nominees fall by the wayside AND if Warners mounts a campaign for her. I doubt they will since in their marketing materials, the praise for Jodie's acting is next to nonexistent.

Anonymous said...

Well, some of you (and other sources) seem to rave Foster... Now I think - maybe the script was so bad that no actor couldn't have dropped the ball... And, if she's awesome in some parts of the movie, she deserves the nod, right? I hate when a bad movie destroys the work of a great actor (that's been happening to Moore, too).

Anyway, go Foster!

-cal roth

Anonymous said...

After seeing the movie (disliked it )... I don't think Foster is going to make the Oscar cut....

adam k. said...

The RT score and general critical consensus is way too low for oscar love. It's just not an oscar film. I don't think they'll campaign her. Nat should change his chart.

The closest an actress has come in recent years to a nod for a critically panned film is when Kidman got globe-nommed for Birth. And that's mainly cause they love her in general, and are more independent-minded. But she and the film were worthy (though divisive) so good on them.

Jodie COULD get a globe nod (still iffy) but not oscar.

So in an odd turn of events, Knightley surges ahead as the only truly LIKELY nominee. I'd say Cotillard is next. Followed by Christie. And Blanchett. And a bunch of others who've yet to arrive.

Beau said...

I hate to be the dissenter in the bunch, I do, but I actually enjoyed the film. Quite a bit, honestly. My thoughts:


-The transformation of Erica is far too abrupt and far too short. She returns to her apartment, has difficulty exiting the building after staying in for so long, goes straight to the police station only to be rebuffed and immediately starts searching for a gun. I needed more of an arc, myself.

-The ending. Completely de-establishes what Howard's character stood for. Yes, he does have that scene in the cafe where he discusses his questioning what he would do in such a situation, if he had the fortitude to put someone away for doing what was essentially the 'right' thing. But by allowing her to off the thug, thereby ending (hopefully) her own reign of terror, he doesn't precisely the opposite of what that character should allow. He would plead with her to stop, to allow the man the trial... he may do all in his power to keep her from getting locked up, but it seems highly unlikely that he'd simply give her the gun and permission to finish what she started. Absurd.

But see, the reason the film worked for me was the audience I was with. Here's a piece with subject matter, largely divisive, and it's so intriguing to watch people react accordingly to the events onscreen. After she commits murder, numerous times, there were always a few select parties in the crowd who gave out yelps of admiration and scattered applause. This frightens me, and this I found to be the reason the film works as well as it does. It appeals to the senses of everyone.
We can all relate to what Bane's struggle is. The question of whether or not to react or to play spectator. How far is too far, if you do? Is there such a thing as readily defined, clear cut morality? know, thinking more and more about the picture, I'm tempted to relate it to (but incredibly hesitant at the same time), a superhero picture.
yeah, seriously.
jodie foster essentially takes on the role of the superhero in this picture. an anti-heroine, if you will.
tragic backstory - dramatic shift in personality - need for revenge of any kind - perfect outlet established - current concept of justice constantly being thrown into question - etc, etc, etc.

If you look at the parallels between the two, it's rather interesting how well they hold up to one another. Again, I hate to use such an analogy, but really? Essentially what differentiates Bane's revenge from that of, say, Wayne or Parker?

This is the reason why I consider the film to be a success in my eyes. Not an overwhelming one by any means, but a success in the fact that it presented a character with a dilemma in a fashion that has clearly managed to divide audiences and critics alike, and it's not often anymore that this occurs. It's a film of ideas and questions, ones we find ourselves hesitant to acknowledge for fear that we might find something in ourselves that sympathizes with this woman's pursuit of justice.



i like that it puts the ideas out there and i do think its fascinating (if depressing) that audiences are usually so gungho for pictures and characters that abandon the rule of law... but my main issue with it is a moral one. I'm OK with immoral characters and whatnot but what I'm not OK with is a movie that preaches one morality, is hypocritical about it at that, and then doesn't even see what's truly immoral.

for instance: the movie doesn't make such a big deal out of Erica lying once the cops have caught a suspect. This is to me a huge point in the narrative where Erica is just plain immoral. The law has actually done its job... and yet, you get the sense over and over that this is one of those movies where you're supposed to except that "someone needs to do something BANG BANG" when the law actually worked.

she identifies him. they go to trial. he goest to jail. safer world out there.

I realize it's more of a primal thing --revenge movies -- but it's disheartening that audiences like it so much. That you can sense that so many people think that a guntoting "protect what's yours!" society is more just or more safe when it's just chaos and dangerous

but anyway blah blah blah

I don't see RT scores as such a problem for Jodies' campaign to be honest. Maybe I have her ranked to high but Jodie is a HUGE PRESTIGE STAR --even if she does only do junk now. that counts for a lot with Oscar. we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:10

I agree completely with what you said. I did enjoy it, but you're right that her transformation was too abrupt. That was the main problem I had with it.

"audiences are usually so gungho for pictures and characters that abandon the rule of law.."

I think this is more of an American thing. We're freaks like that.

And honestly, even though this whole outlaw thing is such a primal part of our culture, it's very much looked down upon. It's like if you enjoy this movie, then you're not a good liberal, progressive, American. At least that's what I got from critic reviews. It would have been okay if this movie was ironic (like Kill Bill) or if it had delivered a strong moral message (guns are bad, viligantism is bad).

I'm convinced this is why superhero movies do so well. We want to see the bad guys get what's coming to them. It's just more acceptable when it's done in bright rubber costumes and superpowers because it's not reality. I will have to see this again because I have a strong feeling I missed out on some things.

"but Jodie is a HUGE PRESTIGE STAR"

I don't know. They left her out in the cold for Contact. I would argue her perf is better in Contact than in TBO.

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Maybe Jodie is the new Will Smith in Pursuit of Happyness...

-cal roth

Anonymous said...

"As I wrote, the film was SHOWGIRLS bad."

Wow. That's nuts! It's no Oscar caliber film and maybe that's what everyone was expecting.

It's fine, it's a good time.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the film was great. It's not crap at all, and I hope that it finds some kind of sustained success and word-of-mouth with all of its perceived controversy. I'm glad that Jodie Foster did a complex role like this one, and even though I don't think it'll go all the way to an Oscar nomination, that isn't the be-all-end-all of the situation. I've never been a fan of Jodie Foster's (don't think that she deserved either of her Oscars), but I was greatly impressed with this performance. It's penetrating and moving and significant. I'm still reeling from it and that ending (which the audience I saw the film with was cheering loudly over), and I was greatly entertained. It was worth my dollars and then some, so I hope that others give it a chance and actually see it before making their judgments.

Anonymous said...

Amen, anon 12:12.

adam k. said...

Nathaniel, by your logic, Jodie would've been nominated for Panic Room and Flight Plan, too. But was she? No. Not even close. She wasn't even nommed for Contact, for which she was entirely deserving. My hunch is that oscar is over her. At least until she directs something.

And this film may end up a modest hit, but it doesn't look to be making THAT much money. It's really just another Flight Plan: Jodie gives great performance in crap film, film makes respectable bank on Jodie's name alone, Jodie wins zero awards. I think it's pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

"My hunch is that oscar is over her."

Interesting you mention that. At her appearance at last year's Oscars I kept on getting the impression that she was very much snubbed by people there, and on the red carpet.


adam you distort my logic. There's a big difference between this film and Panic Room and Flight Plan. Now I think this movie is infinitely inferior to Panic Room (a very good film) but Brave One is the only one of Jodie's recent efforts that has even remotely given her a baity character. Brave One is entirely about her characterization... hence way more for Oscar to love.

I did some rethinking after all the comments here and removed her from my predictions but I still think if the film had not met with disastrous reviews (i really thought it would be more divisive but it's getting trashed plained and simple) she would've been in.

The media would certainly help her campaign: they practically have been drooling all over her for the past week.

adam k. said...

I get that her characterization in this one is more interesting, but the movie is no better than the others. In fact, it's worse. And as you say, it's getting trashed... and not making big $. It might get to $50 mil if it has some legs, but with these reviews, why should it? It's the kind of movie that makes most of its money on opening weekend.

I think academy people just figure that Jodie already has more than enough oscars to last her the rest of her life. And since (given her career choices) she obviously doesn't care about getting any more noms, then why should they give her any? More power to her for not giving a shit, but you get what you give, you know?

It's really a shame, though, cause she was 100% nominatable for at least the first half of the movie. Whatever the studio thought they were doing jamming in that ending, it was really dumb. Don't they know that dumbing a movie down and making it terrible will only cause bad reviews, which will turn people away? Unless it's a dumb comedy or a comic book movie with built-in mass appeal, a movie actually being GOOD is a huge plus. Even if that makes it a teensy bit challenging.

Their basic miscalculation with this thing is that they didn't seem to realize that Jodie Foster's fanbase is people with brains. All you need to make $$$ is Jodie in a movie that's well-reviewed. That's ALL you need. But Jodie's fans don't wanna see her in crap, much less morally dubious, insulting crap. Which is why this movie won't be huge.

Sorry, I just had to rant a little about that. I really wanted to like this movie, but it insisted on being crap. What a waste.

adam k. said...

Plus, Jodie, why don't you just come out??? It's hard to take you seriously till you do.

I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

adam k. said...

OK, so I realized I had to vent some things about Jodie Foster. So I just wrote a rather extensive Jodie post on my blog. I'm kind of proud of it.

(plops down, satisfied)

Anonymous said...

I was actually intrigued by the film. I think the feelings raised by the vigilante issue are rendered all the more potent because Erica's victims seem so evil. Once Erica makes a mistake, the ambiguity is actually tossed out the window. As soon as she killed someone who, as you suggest, didn't apparently deserve to die, her actions are clearly immoral.

When Erica's victims are depicted as irredeemable, the questions are much more tightly focused on the actual vigilante act. Is it okay to act outside the law when the law seems insufficient? Is it okay to take the law into one's own hands? The obvious answer is no, but the movie forces the viewer to confront a situation in which he or she might give the opposite answer. It is truly uncomfortable.

I agree that Erica professes to be far more conflicted than she actually is. I don't agree, however, that the film is inconsistent in the moment she is reluctant to shoot Mercer. We know her hands didn't shake when she committed her previous murders. Because, as Mercer said, she believed she was on the side of the law. When she was about to shoot Mercer, she tells him that her hands are shaking. The act was outside her theory of justice.


but, even so, the law was functioning. She actually rejects the law so it's not a case of being justified by a system that's broken. (remember they catch one of the guys very early on and she prevents the law from doing their work) and this to me is the heinously immoral act that the movie barely realizes is wrong when it gets Erica into way more of a lather about simple things like self-defense

the system is not perfect (no system of law is) but it's a helluva lot better than the populace chasing each other down with guns... and the movie seems to have no awareness of the larger issue that it's actually bringing up

the more i think about this movie the more i hate it

Anonymous said...

And that's the thing with vigilanteism. After a while, it's easy to confuse the vigilante with the law. By that point, Erica's conception of justice is so warped that there's no longer a distinction; it's still consistent to her. And I'd argue that the movie doesn't recognize the act as immoral because Erica doesn't, and the film is very much about her point of view.

Anonymous said...

In only one circumstance is she truly killing in self defense. Notice how every murder requires her to become more and more proactive.

1. She kills the man in the convenience store because she was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time.

2. Rather than get off the train with everyone else, she chooses to remain on it with the thugs.

3. She's out looking for trouble and gets into that man's car.

4. And then, of course, she refuses to point out the perp and tracks him down herself.

With each successive murder, Erica and the film are less conflicted about the choices she's making.