Netflix’s large catalog of films varies tremendously in quality. You might come across some films that are so good that you can rewatch them several times. The memory of watching these films becomes a happy one. Each viewing is rewarding and fills you with a renewed love for cinema. And then, there are films like ‘Brazen’ that shame the art form. You simply cannot wait for the nightmare to stop. Finishing just one viewing becomes an arduous, painful, and suffering task.
Monika Mitchel”s confused and senseless adaptation of the novel of the same name stars Alyssa Milano as Grace Miller, a successful crime novelist. She visits her sister, Kathleen, a divorcee, who reveals to her that she going to fight for full custody of her son. Kathleen, although has a day job as a high school teacher, turns dominatrix by night, working for an online service provider, Fantasy Inc.
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As Grace develops a romantic relationship with Detective Jennings next door, Kathleen is murdered in cold blood. Several performers follow suit, leading Grace to team up with the police department to catch the killer. We have all seen ‘Brazen’s genre peers play the serial killer theme with a family twist. Mothers fighting for their children’s custody, teenagers with questionable moral turpitude, and sexual fetishes. But ‘Brazen’ takes all of them and does the worst possible job with them.
Every move that Mitchel makes towards her “big reveal” is frustrating. The execution is deeply unprofessional, so much so, that the cast hardly ever seems like acting. And this is not a compliment. They aren’t seamless or natural in that sense of saying. They are like dead bodies, going line after line, scene to scene without any purpose, nuance, or conviction. They have no help from the poor writing and amateurish, generic storytelling talents of Mitchel either. Even in a bad film, one can find some positives. Some little detail or character might stick them after the film is finished. Not ‘Brazen’. Trying to look for something positive will land you in a place where you start to hate it even more.
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I am speechless as to how a script like this was sanctioned in the first place. It is superficial, completely random, and significantly blase about the seriousness of its themes. But the problem with ‘Brazen’ is that it does not have a mass or commercial appeal either. Thinking about its target audience and people who might actually like anything in the film is hard. There is no continuity in any development. Characters do not react to events in the plot. There is hardly any attempt to get reasonable explanations about the situations they find themselves in. Their impact and presence are limited to the scenes they seem fitted into. Forcefully, or not, it comes across as a bit rude to the viewer’s intelligence.
Sans a proper story structure and plausible dialogues, ‘Brazen’s fortunes are left to the whim of the viewer. Honestly, the result, overwhelmingly, threatens to be fatal. Visually, the film offers nothing. Even the editing and blocking do not seem commensurate to the emotional or creative need for many scenes. At times, you feel a fleeting camera, a dolly shot might say more than a still one. A closeup could have placed the character more intimately with the viewer than a generic medium setup. Characters stand awkwardly, assembled like they have no idea how to react or interact with the other person. The central mystery about the identity of the serial killer is so poorly developed, chills and thrills turn into bemusement. This phenomenon is ubiquitous in ‘Brazen’.
The annoying music you hear in lifts and places where it fills the dullness meanders over every scene. The staple note is brutally molded into low and higher sound granules to denote tension and vulnerability. The repetitive nature makes a tepid impression. Frankly, nothing works for the film, individually, or collectively. ‘Brazen’ is one of the worst cinematic experiences Netflix could have offered. The most sensible choice would be to stay away from this mess and save yourself some time.