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Review ‘bruised’: Director Halle Berry’s debut is guaranteed if familiar

“Bruised” doesn’t break anything new from a narrative standpoint, but it does show Halle Berry’s prowess as a director.

In general, sports movies are quite formulaic, regardless of gender. It’s one of the more reliable genres that can entertain even when the beats are standard operating procedure. When it comes to sports movies featuring women, there are some slight differences, namely what the sport is and what role men play in it. Because the Halle Berry, made his directorial debut with the MMA film “Bruises‘, she wanted to make the film very feminine, both in front of and behind the camera, and it made a difference, in that it stood out from the already existing sports features. before.

Jackie Justice (Berry) used to be the top MMA fighter of the UFC. But when she jumped out of the cage during a match, the disgrace ruined her career. Four years later, Jackie moves from job to job without showing it off beyond her abusive boyfriend/manager, Desi (Adan Canto), who continues to push her into the fray. When Jackie’s young son, Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.), shows up on her doorstep following the death of his father, the pair must form an unlikely alliance.

During a Q&A session after the screening, Berry was emotional as she discussed her journey to bringing the film to the screen. It was a story that was originally written about a white Irish Catholic woman, and by working with screenwriter Michelle Rosenfarb, Berry not only transformed the character into what she is, but was eventually turned into a director.

Similar to another disgraced martial artist movie seeking redemption, Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” “Bruised” sees Jackie striving not only to achieve success in the ring but also in her personal life. her person. Jackie is the victim of trauma and has a controversial relationship with her mother, Angel (Adriane Lenox), so the arrival of Manny forces Jackie to confront what it means to be a mother. There’s always a slight twist when we see stories of mothers learning how to be mothers, and while Jackie never shows any regrets in deciding to let Manny live with her father, the film turns double the pomp in their scenes. Manny had apparently witnessed the murder of his own father, but was more tormented by Desi.

HALLE BERRY as JACKIE JUSTICE, DANNY BOYD JR. as MANNY LYONS JR

“Brunk”

JOHN BAER / NETFLIX © 2021

These scenes will probably make “Bruised” very maudlin, but Berry and young Boyd are great together. Berry often stepped back and allowed him to shine, the camera capturing on Boyd’s expressive face as he processed what he saw. There’s a curiosity and inquisitiveness to his performance enhanced by the fact that he doesn’t speak for nearly the entire film. A shot shows Manny listening to an excerpt of “Just the Two of Us,” a song he and his father play together, and we watch him release all his grief and sadness. that he holds in his heart.

It’s no surprise that Berry has shown her ability to direct, especially after 30 years of working in the film industry. With cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco, Berry displays convincing tenacity, both in her performance and in the way the fights are captured on camera. The final cage fight was shot especially well, with the camera highlighting the fight in a way that the audience saw everything, but especially honing the characters’ ballet movements.

Like any good fight movie, the fight choreography here is brutal. Although the film opens with Jackie jumping out of the cage, it’s clear that she has a lot of hurt and anger waiting to be released. In the first moments of the film, Desi takes her to an underground fighting ring, where she must fight a giant female boxer. Jackie walked right into her face, pressing the woman’s face to the hamburger with the camera capturing everything.

But part of Jackie’s growing up involves not only venting her anger and past, but also understanding the fighting mechanics better. Much of the information that comes out is that Jackie is already middle-aged and thought to be too old to fight. With her trainer Buddhakan (Sheila Atim), the pair learn to create a center of calm in which Jackie can control herself and the fight. Some of the scenes from the final fight are beautiful to watch, especially when Berry demonstrates the agility that UFC fighters have to utilize to get someone to the ground.

Berry and Canto, as Desi, have absolutely no chemistry, probably because, with Desi’s huge “Boricua” tattoo on his chest and strong New York accent, the character is too colorful to be banned. guess that. (His scenes see me backtracking with Max Beesley in “Glitter.”) Thankfully, Sheila Atim’s Buddhakan arrives, immediately showing a good reaction to Berry. Atim’s trainer prioritizes mental strength over physical endurance; She understands that it’s not strong enough if your mind feels hurt. Every scene with her is magnetic.

“Bruised” doesn’t break anything new from a narrative standpoint, but it does show Halle Berry’s prowess as a director, boasting her ability to dominate performances in a single story. simple. Sheila Atim and Danny Boyd Jr were awesome and threatened to run away during the entire production.

Grade B

“Bruised” is available to stream on Netflix on November 24.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2021/11/bruised-review-halle-berry-directorial-debut-assured-1234679328/ | Review ‘bruised’: Director Halle Berry’s debut is guaranteed if familiar

Aila Slisco

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