Let me first give a wee bit of background so you can see this through the eyes from which I viewed this film. For many years I have been called a liberal. I usually felt the need to defend these accusations as though being a liberal is an offense. And it is not really that I thought of liberalism as this horrible thing, but I truly did not believe I was one. Did and do I have some liberal views? Sure do. But one some topics I also can have a tendency to lean a bit to the right. Not too often, but it does happen – leaving me in this purgatory between liberal and conservative, democrat and republican. One issue did tend to waver on was the death penalty. But typically – and especially after seeing the movie The Life of David Gale (excellent flick by the way) – I took the side of anti-death penalty. I just did not think it would ever be worth having one innocent person die and never did I really believe that it posed as a deterrent in anyway. I will say that I do still feel this way. This, I give to you as an example of my so-called liberal views. But I have to tell you that as I watched the movie, The Brave One, I could feel that liberal part of me lifting up, up and away. I was most certainly NOT a liberal while watching this movie.
The basic synopsis of the movie, which is often compared to the 70’s hit “Death Wish” (which I had never seen) is this: a normally carefree, happy, fearless woman is brutally attacked causing her to almost “leave” herself and seek revenge in violent ways. This dichotomy inside of her left her feeling both numb and curious as to why she did not feel the guilt or shame she thought she should. This woman is played by the brilliant and encompassing Jodie Foster – a truly Oscar worthy performance without a doubt.
I have to tell you that from here on out there may be some spoilers of which are not obvious or shown in the trailers for the movie. So, if you wish to not know what happens – I would actually urge to you to stop reading at this point – go see the movie (it is SO worth it) and then come back her to discuss it with me!! If you have seen the movie or do not care if you go into it knowing certain aspects – then please…read on…
Towards the beginning of the movie Foster’s character along with her fiancé are violently attacked in a very disturbing scene. So, right off the bat I was crying. I figured this was going to be a car chasing, shoot ‘em up Dirty Harry type flick. I did not expect the water works – boy was I wrong!! This movie tore me up. The attack and the moments which proceeded it were quite heart wrenching. And again, I cannot say enough about the quality of acting in this movie. I really attribute my emotional reaction to that mainly. Because THANK GOD I have not been in a situation like that for it to be a bad memory recall thing…I really think that because the acting was so dead on, so real that I truly felt that I knew how she was feeling. You honestly cannot get better than that when it comes to talent.
After the attack, she is drenched in fear; afraid to leave her apartment, afraid of the steps behind her. All of these everyday things she never once thought about became struggles as the dread enveloped her. Because of this – angry that she now has to feel this way – she decides to buy a gun for protection. This is the first moment when I realized that not all of my ideals were as permanent and as clear as they once were. I always said that I would never own a gun. I hate guns. I even would like them to be illegal if ever possible. But when Erica, Jodie’s character, goes to buy the piece – I am right there with her and know in my heart I would have done the same thing. Liberal Heather – where are you??
Throughout the body of the movie Erica comes across a couple situations where she is faced with the opportunity to rid the world of some very bad people. In the first 2 situations, she did what most people would have done with her courage. Sensible killings, if you will. The next two – she diliberatly sought out. And through this whole period she becomes more and more withdrawn. She becomes a person she not only doesn’t recognize – but also doesn’t understand. She struggles with the duality of knowing that these people deserve their fate but also the fact that she knows what she is doing isn’t right. This vigilantism she cognitively is aware is inappropriate – but she cannot help herself. Her anger – her sheer anger at what society has become motivates a stranger inside of her to take over.
So, this “liberal” gal from Wisconsin watches as this pissed off woman from New York empowers herself with a weapon and takes out the slime balls she comes across. And not only do I watch with approval and understanding…but I cheer – and not always silently.
The ending is certainly not what anyone would expect and I will not give that away even in a spoiler review. But I can say that I shouted “YES!” and clapped my hands as I bent forward on the edge of my seat and cried.
This movie made me feel so much. So much I hadn’t expected – not only was it not expected of the film…but of me. Did this movie change some of my fundamental ideals and judgments? You know what, maybe it did. It definitely showed me a side to which I was not able to truly understand before. It made me so sad for the people who have had such horrible things happen in their lives. It made me so angry that this country is filled with such shit. It made me feel vindicated when she pulled those triggers. And if made it afraid of whom I could become were a tragic event to occur in my own life.
Bottom line – this movie is a must see. It is not your typical revenge movie. It is not your typical anything.