The Brave One (Neil Jordan, 2008)

I am a sucker for cheap DVDs, and since I am now two minutes from ASDA, I was an easy target for one of their special offers the day before yesterday. I have almost completely gone off the cinema these days. I quite like being to pause for a drink, or a think, and I quite like a bit of personal space when I watch a film. My TV watching is now in sharp descent: on average, 10 mins a day last week.

I only buy DVDs in stores like ASDA (I am rather surprised to be told by Wikipedia that ASDA is a sort of acronym originating in the merger of Associated Dairies & Farm Stores Limited – 1949 – and two other firms which began with the letters AS in 1965. I don’t believe everything I read in Wikipedia, but it is thought by many to be more reliable than Britannica) if they contain reliable actors, and since Jodie Foster is certainly in that category, I nabbed The Brave One for a few quid and a night in.

The Brave One is incontrovertibly one of the least imaginative titles ever given to a film, wouldn’t you say? I have tried thinking up duller titles, but even the most anaemic sounded more interesting. As a film, it’s no great shakes, but with Foster in it, it is highly watchable. I don’t quite know what it is about Foster: probably the usual skill of the great film actor, of understatement. She often plays women who look vulnerable but have nerves of tungsten. I also admire Foster as a woman who has almost completely evaded the celebrity circuit. The plot is morally only a couple of steps above Death Wish: it’s a revenge film, in which the central character acts as a vigilante. The bad guys are therefore very, very bad – uncharacterised thugs, at the disposal of the plot, such as it is. It involves a fair amount of shooting, but the Foster character has a chance to show off her voice in that she plays a woman who roams New York at night to make city documentaries for a radio station: some nice monologues in the hard-boiled, mildly poetic style.

Jodie Foster in 'The Brave One'

 I wouldn’t want to give away the plot, other than to say that it involves the killing of her partner at an early stage, and a faintly unlikely alliance with the cop who is searching for the perpetrator of various violent crimes. On Imdb, the internet movie database, there is quite a spat about the film between someone who failed to put ‘spoiler’ in a posting which read ‘Enough loopholes to drive a truck through’, and those who read the post and found that the plot was given away. But complaining about coincidence and improbabilities in a film like this is pointless. You might as well say that Hardy’s novels are a bit too dependent on chance. Of course they are. I just placed my brain in neutral, and enjoyed Foster’s very intense acting. If movies were placed on Earth for anything, it wasn’t to be believed in.

And besides, the direction and camerawork are steady, clean, and not given to the constant, infuriating jumps which beset a lot of US films. I didn’t wonder who was whom at any stage. And there was a surpising bonus in the shape of a Sarah McLachlan song over the credits, called ‘Answer’. I usually find SM a bit saccharin, but I had bought the album with the song on it for the unprincely sum of £3.50 within an hour of the DVD coming to an end.

So: £7 worth of retail therapy. Not much to complain about, all in all. Go for it.

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