The Brave One - BRD
(Neil Jordan, 2007)
Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Village Roadshow & Silver Pictures
DVD: Warner Home Entertainment
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Feature film: 1080p
122 minutes; 31 chapters
Supplements: 1080p, 480i & 480p
Dolby True HD: English 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
DUBs: French Dolby Digital 5.1 (Quebecois)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English, French, Spanish and none
• Featurette: I Walk the City
• Additional Scenes
Single disc (25 GB); Standard Blu-ray case
Release Date: February 5, 2008
The Brave One ~ Comment
"Brave" is not the word that leaps to my mind as I consider Jodie Foster's character in Neil Jordan's latest movie. No, I don't think so. Beethoven was brave. Chris Reeve was brave. But Erica Bain is lost and desperate. To my thinking bravery does not proceed from desperation and hopelessness, but only when you feel there are choices. The protagonist here feels she has none. She is driven – at first to hole up in her apartment (very understandable); later, to buy a gun; later still, to kill. When she first attempts to buy a gun she is told she will have to wait 30 days after she gets her license. She replies, "I can't wait 30 days." She feels she can do only the one thing: That’s' not choice. That's obsession.
What motivates the protagonist seems to me be at the heart of what is confused about this film. It is unquestionably courageous for her to go on with any kind of life after the assault, but Erica is so damaged that she refuses offers of support from friends or family. She doesn't consider therapy. She doesn't relocate, nor travel nor take any form of vacation. Instead, she returns to the apartment she shared with her fiancÚ – and, in her way, dies there.
From the featurette, it is clear that title refers to Erica's willingness to go on with her life, yet I feel that the film I saw isn't the film intended. Unlike Beethoven and Reeve, Erica gives in to her inner demons, and manifests their fear and their outrage. As she herself says, it is no longer her life she is living, but someone else's. This is not courage; it's despair.
Interesting about the screenplay is what is not examined as much as what is. For instance, at no time does our protagonist question her boyfriend's role in the assault. While very much the victim here, he did not walk away when he first had the chance. She doesn't really examine her feelings about surviving the assault, though she makes an attempt at a kind of catharsis on her radio program – an attempt undermined by her producer. So much for sisterhood! All of these might have suited a very different film, for the interest here is only how it is possible – perhaps in some circumstance, inevitable – to become completely so taken over by fear that one sees real and potential assaults everywhere and eventually finds it necessary to take action against them. To put it another way, untreated PTSD is a bummer. [see also G.T.'s review of the SD HERE]
The Brave One ~ The Score Card
The Movie : 6
Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) hosts a radio program about life on the streets of New York, the New York she has lived in and loves. When she and her fiancÚ are brutally assaulted by a gang of creeps, her body eventually recovers, but her soul is transformed, not so much for the better. A sympathetic homicide detective (Terence Howard) is on the trail of a string of "vigilante" killings that seem to inevitably lead to her.
Image : 8.5 (8~8.5/9)
The score of 8.5 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a 10-point scale. The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.
Sharpness of image is not this movie's strong suit, which is, rather, an exercise in subtle tones of dark and shadow. In this respect the Blu-ray is very effective, yielding just enough hints in those secret recesses to convey both fear and excitement. The blue-green tinge that Gary noted in his review of the SD is not a problem here.
Audio & Music : 8/7
Nothing to complain nor write home about. Foster's tendency to whisper her lines comes through with the dramatic impact intended.
Operations : 7
Typical of Warner, we get right to the movie before we've had time to return to our seats. The menu, though in no way taking advantage of the medium, is straightforward. As is typical with Warner Blu-rays, the slightly expanding thumbnails are not titled. Lots of chapters for a film this short.
Extras : 6
With input from director, writer and actors, I Walk the City is a twenty-minute look at how this project developed from a typical vigilante noir to – well, whatever it is. This and the few "additional scenes" are all that is ported over from the SD. There are no HD exclusive features.
The question of how a vicious and near fatal attack changes a person profoundly and forever is what is considered in this film. I found the movie was most successful in the relatively subtle threads that followed Foster and Howard in their various meetings and conversations about murder and police work, and caricatured when it came to media and public reaction. Fans of the actress will not be disappointed even if her Clarice whisper sometimes finds its way back through the slime.
February 1st, 2008
Enter the Dragon