. Athena's Books: The Brave One...Not a Book
Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Brave One...Not a Book

Well, I hope all of you have had a great week. Me? I've been drowning in schoolwork--grading for my students and writing for my class. I just finished writing a 6 page script to film analysis of a movie, and I still need to write my 3rd story idea to match the general scene I wrote for a screenplay. All due Tuesday. And, tomorrow I'll be writing critical feedback on commentary for short flash fiction pieces written by 4 of my fiction workshop peers and reading a short story for class discussion. Whew!

But why not post a piece of my paper? I mean, it is sort of like a review, except that the focus is on "cinematic elements." Any of you ever seen "The Brave One" with Jodi Foster? Enjoy.

...The screenplay for “The Brave One” takes on the vigilante theme and the capacity of a traumatized victim to fall into a vendetta of vengeance and turn into a killer. But, unlike other vigilantes such as Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” or Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino,” the screenwriters for “The Brave One” turn the genre in a new direction with a female heroine who does not choose to be a justice seeker, but who simply falls into vigilante mode after a brutal attack against her life and that of her fiancée. The attack itself is not what gets the lead character, Erica Bain, out there on a shooting agenda, but once she kills her first victim at a convenience store out a need for self protection, her character is more willing to gun down the scum of society. She is not intentionally looking for her attackers, but by the end of the movie she goes after a guy with a crowbar and pushes him off a building to his death. The film, directed by Neil Jordan (2007) and starring Jodi Foster, closely follows the storyline, dialogue, and staging directions written into the screenplay, but to some degree is more successful in showing the emotional descent of the lead character and the fine line between human and killer.

A significant element in the movie is the use of cross-cutting images, strengthening the visual power of some scenes. For instance, the attack of Erica and her fiancée, David, moves back and forth between monochromatic video images and regular filming. The script only calls for moving twice between the monochromatic image and the regular image, but the film uses the technique several times, showing the dehumanizing nature of the attack. With the monochromatic image, the audience gets a sense as to how the footage would be seen by desensitized viewers on Youtube or other media outlets.

...The script does call for cross cutting between the present action in the ER and a flashback to a moment of intimacy between Erica and David. I enjoyed the dichotomy between beauty and savagery, between sensuality and cold reality. The action description in the screenplay relates how Erica’s body is broken and frail and connected to machines providing an “ugly survival” worse than the attack itself. It goes on to describe her survival as “cold and without passion” and as “an odd way to hold on to life.”

Where Film Succeeds: Camera Shots

At one point, the camera gives an extreme close-up of Erica’s mouth when she takes up her on-air radio personality. Her listener’s only hear her voice, so it makes sense that the audience should only see her lips. In a way, doing this brings a sort of sensuality. Her voice is low, her lips are red, and she is about to talk about a deeply personal issue. This is a good set up for a women who later calls in to the Erica's radio show and admits she finds male vigilantes sexy. Is a female vigilante sexy? The stereotype of a woman in leather who takes on men and wields guns and crowbars says yes. But Erica is slight of body, a little bit older, and looks hollow at times. However, she sure can break a man’s nose with her forehead. But, the listeners on the radio don’t know she is the vigilante, and at the same time don’t really know her. They know her sultry voice and probably envision her as a sexy radio host.

Where Film and Screenplay Blend Well Together: Dialogue and Visual Enhancement

The last conversation between Erica Bain and Detective Mercer (played by Terrence Howard)captures the unsaid emotion described in the screenplay. The screenplay explains the air as being “thick between them” with every phrase weighted between the “cop and suspect, man, woman, lover.” This is one of my favorite scenes because I love any sort of romantic element, but beyond this, the actors really bring the element of the unsaid and coat it with the full spectrum of human fraility and raw emotion through their voice inflections and body language. Also, at one point we see them through the window—a relationship that almost is. In this regard, the film enhances the script.

OK...that was just a piece of it. :)