BRAVE ONE, THE
Radio host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) uses her knowledge of New York on which to base her radio program Street Walk. She shares stories about the city she loves to her radio audience until one shocking night her fiancé David (Naveen Andrews) is killed and she is severely injured in a brutal random attack. When her body eventually heals, Erica finds it impossible to step back into her old life. The streets that were once welcoming now seem threatening and she gets a gun for self protection. The first time she kills someone, it is in self defence, but killing becomes a way of life, and Erica finds herself changing. Meanwhile, NYPD detective Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard) is intent on capturing the vigilante killer as Erica grapples with her conscience and starts to question the choices she is making.
Review by Louise Keller:
The fragile line between right and wrong is explored in this morally nebulous tale about a woman who finds herself lost after the brutal attack that changes her life. 'You become someone else - a stranger,' she says when she finds herself questioning everything she once took for granted. Powerful themes, intense emotions and a faultless performance from Jodie Foster are central to Neil Jordan's film, yet I have a fundamental problem with the morals of this story that condones violence, revenge and the protagonist taking the law into her own hands. Even the title twists our perception of what is acceptable and worse still, what behaviour is to be admired. While we can empathise with Erica's plight and mourn with her for the life she has lost, there is something ugly about the way the subject matter is handled, as it elevates dastardly, unthinkable acts into heroics.
When we first meet Foster's Erica Bain, we are given a glimpse of her life. Passionate and committed to her work and fiancé David (Naveen Andrews), Erica is a private sort of person. It is as though she voices her soul through her radio program and imbues her physicality through her fiancé. The scenes in which David's mutilated body are edited alongside those when Erica and David are making love jolt us into acute awareness of the Erica's devastation. Erica may have physically survived the ordeal, but fear takes over her life. For the price of an illegal $1,000 gun, she effectively buys herself a licence for revenge. When she shoots a perpetrator in a convenience store, it is in self defence, but a double shooting in a train could have been avoided and the murder of a felon is premeditated. The story becomes ridiculous when Erica goes out at night looking for trouble, climbing into a parked car in which a man is holding a whore in the back seat.
The best part of the film is the development of the relationship between Erica and newly divorced NYPD detective Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard, excellent) whom she interviews for her radio program. Their connection is tangible and when Mercer comments that nothing 'legal' can be done in a specific case, it is as though something clicks in Erica's mind. The way she takes the law into her own hands will divide audiences, and we can clearly see there is a difference between her being reactive, proactive and premeditative. What she says to her fiancé's killers is also a surprise. Jordan's direction is solid and the tension is palpable. I felt sheer discomfort as the shocking climax comes to its conclusion, further damaging the morality at issue. The Brave One has plenty going for it, but is totally devoid of ethics.
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BRAVE ONE, THE (MA)
CAST: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Nicky Katt, Jane Adams
PRODUCER: Susan Downey, Joel Silver
DIRECTOR: Neil Jordan
SCRIPT: Roderick Taylor, Bruce A. Taylor, Cynthia Mort
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philippe Rousselot
EDITOR: Tony Lawson
MUSIC: Dario Marianelli
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kristi Zea
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 11, 2007