Film Scouts Reviews

"The Brave"

by Cari Beauchamp

I tried, I really did. The opening montage of sun beating down on a dump site with young native American children plowing through the junk for gems tells us immediately of the dire emotional and economic poverty they face. Close up to a very serious Johnny Depp, surveying his sleeping wife and children in the hovel of a trailer they call home. Ok, we get it. The camera spends the next 15 minutes slowly panning Johnny catching the bus to town and entering what looks like an abandoned warehouse. The long staircase he faces is shot from the top floor down and the viewers only thought is "Oh no, am I really going to have to watch him walk up each and every step." And the answer, I am afraid, is yes.

The "job" Johnny has come to interview for is to be the victim in a snuff film...yes, life is so desperate and work so scarce that it has come to this... If he is to provide for his family, he has to die. Before we have much time to dwell on the total lack of subtly of this plot twist and the way it is being told, the man who is doing the hiring turns out to be Marlon Brando. Well, Brando is Brando. Of course, he never ceases being Marlon Brando, but even that doesn't matter much. He enters and exits playing a harmonica and in between he has a seven minute monologue of the exquisite challenge of death. The dialogue itself is rather nonsensical, but if you just watch the expressions and listen to the intonation, he is breathtaking.

The next hour and half is consumed with Johnny's last 7 days on this earth, partying, drinking, sleeping with his wife and having one meaningful conversation with his 8 year old son about becoming the "man of the house."

I stayed. And this time I was not alone. The Brave - you get it, a double entendre for a young Native American Man as well as a man willing to face death by torture - was close to universally panned. The critic from Screen called it "narratively inept and dramatically empty" and he was one of the kinder ones. While Depp's intentions of showing poverty and sacrifice were clearly well intended, the total lack of subtly and the absence of sympathetic characters or humor of any kind, left most of us still - on the fourth day of the festival - still starving for a good film.

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