smockdaddy and i saw the brave one last night. two words: uber intense.
jodie won her first academy award playing a victim who, after being bashed from her chrysalis, is reborn into a braver self in the accused. and while thrillers aren't usually the academy's style (oops! did i mention jodie's oscar for silence of the lambs?), my jodie gives an amazing performance of enormous complexity that deserves many awards.
in the brave one, jodie's erica bain, after being beaten nearly to death with her fiancé who doesn't survive the attack, has to emerge from the womb of her fear by reluctantly reinventing herself. it is very evident that erica does not want to become the vigilante she is branded. terrence howard (whom i am growing incresingly fond of with each movie he makes) plays detective mercer who struggles with the moral dilemma of identifying with this magnetic and pitiful nemesis ... she even asks herself if she is looking for the iniquity or if the iniquity is finding her.
this is probably the most symbolic film i've seen in a great while. the scenes of erica's struggle through the hallway of her apartment building as she tries to emerge from the safehaven of her apartment are incredibly "birthlike." detective mercer sounds an awful lot like mercy. and bain is french for bathing -- is erica trying to cleanse herself as she bathes the streets of "the safest big city in the world" of it's grotesque filth? the list goes on and on, but i won’t spoil it all for you here – but i cannot wait to get mamaT to this film this week to see it again and have a lengthy discussion which i’m sure will ensue.
the irony of this morality piece is palpable. more than once erica refers to her hometown as "the safest big city in the world" -- as a viewer you tell yourself, if this is "the safest big city in the world" then our world is very unsafe. the extreme intensity of the brave one stems from the blatant dichotomy at play -- this tale is somehow both visceral and reasonable at the same time. at first erica reacts only when her own life is in danger -- and even when she seeks out a predator, you cannot help but feel she is irrefutably justified.
there were surprisingly few moments when i questioned my own reaction to the violence of the film, but as a catholic you cannot help but struggle with the moral ramifications. i will admit however that while watching the movie it was a small struggle to shrug off my religion. at one point i turned to smockdaddy and commented that "maybe this is how God works through people?" during one scene in particular there was for me absolutely no dilemma -- i was in no way ambivalent about the ... vindication. it is only now, the next day, that i am laboring through the complexity of the subject. which I’m sure was the writers’ intent.
director neil jordan is careful to play both sides of vigilantism, but from the clapping and hoots from last night's audience -- the smock included -- you know the verdict: a reckoning by any other name would smell as sweet.