Bruiser (2022) Movie Review: A Poignant Exploration Of Masculinity, Fatherhood, And The Lasting Impact Of Violence


Bruiser (2022) Movie Review:  Last year’s Beautiful Beings took a closer look at how violence impacts its adolescent characters. It depicts boyhood in an achingly beautiful manner and shows a camaraderie borne out of a shared sense of pain. Their struggle is to leave their abusive parents behind, to find a life where abuse isn’t a norm anymore. Miles Warren’s ‘Bruiser’ takes another look at violence and shows it as a key determinant in its male characters’ resulting personalities. Their past wounds create a lasting impact on all of their lives.

The story is seen through its 14-year-old protagonist – Darious (played by Jalyn Hall, known for his recent soul-crushing performance as Emmett Till). After his family’s recent move to a new place, he tries to adjust to his new environment. He cannot meet his old friends, which doesn’t bother his father, Malcolm (played by Shamier Anderson). He maintains his position as a respectable, even-minded person in society and shows Darious that stereotypes can always be defied. His son, meanwhile, seeks warmth from him and not just values.

Darious’ mother, Monica (played by Shinelle Azoroh), presents a friendly support system beside his girlfriend, June (played by Ava Ryback). Yet, when he grapples with feelings of loneliness, he finds it difficult to share these thoughts with them. Whether it is the burden of their support or a promise of a good life his parents provide, he often seems to be under an emotional burden. One day, he gets caught up in a brawl and is beaten up by another classmate. After getting bruised, he comes across a charismatic old man – Porter (played by Trevante Rhodes, seen recently in Mike), about the age of his father, who provides him with a piece of advice, unlike his family. While Monica does not want him to get into fights, this old man appreciates that he fought back.

Darious finds a presence that he was lacking in his life. Porter seems like a yang to his parents’ yin. He is charming, rugged, and free, and this provides him with something that his seemingly controlling parenting can’t. Darious finds solace in it. However, their relationship takes a swift turn when he learns some hidden truths about the shared past between Porter and his parents.


A history of violence leads Porter and Malcolm to different paths. Their personalities after a gruesome incident result in their loss of innocence. Through them, Bruiser contemplates parenthood and, more specifically, fatherhood. Be it a sense of responsibility or an entitled feeling of ownership that they feel, it examines these aspects through the discussion of their past and present.

With Porter’s arrival, Darious suddenly finds himself caught up between these two father figures. They present different shades of manhood, and Bruiser is clever enough never to let their comparative portraits slide into a polarising territory. There is empathy, strength, vulnerability, and an urge to act upon their call of violence in both of them. It makes Darious” bewilderment seem even more truthful when he struggles to choose one of them. While he gravitates toward Porter, there is a sense of security in his life with Malcolm. The film dwells upon the roots of these elements in their individual personalities with clarity of thought and a lot of sentiment.

Besides Darious, Bruiser also looks at ‘adolescence’ through the prism of its older characters. In what is perhaps the most defining part of a person’s character development, their years of growing up open up other layers of the writing. The screenplay, written by Ben Medina and Miles Warren, takes us through an emotional ride to show how the things we do not heal from end up haunting us in the future. Malcolm’s urge to run away from his tragic past makes him stop Darious from showing any sign of his past self. The things which he despises now. On the other hand, Porter’s presence in the kid’s life is more than an act of reparation – it’s a genuine cry for connection, where he lost a chance to have a normal adolescence.

Through this debut feature, Miles Warren gives enough to ponder upon generational violence without letting its cerebral side negate its emotional one. Trevante Rhodes walks a tightrope in his performance, presenting an uncommon warmth through his visibly rugged character. Malcolm’s silent tragedy of a character is a difficult one to inhabit. But Shamier Anderson attempts it with brevity. While Shinelle Azoroh presents her compassionate character with grace, Jalyn Hall gives yet another soaring performance that embodies Darious’ unfortunate ghostlike presence.

Also, Read: Anything’s Possible [2022] Review: Billy Porter’s directorial debut gives trans girl her own love story

Bruiser (2022) Movie Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Bruiser (2022) Movie Cast: Jalyn Hall, Trevante Rhodes, Shamier Anderson, Shinelle Azoroh
Where to watch Bruiser
Akash Deshpande

Obsessed, fascinated, and always nerding out about cinema! You can find me in the corner of a room ruminating over the last TV series I watched.