F*** this movie.
I don’t get emotional about things in my own life. It’s not so much a poker face as it is shoving things down. There’s not even an effort involved – the tamping down of feelings is automatic. The effort comes with trying to express emotion like a normal human being.
So, when a movie, book, or TV show sets me to crying…..I don’t take it very well. I tend to shout, “F*** this show/book/movie!” Through tears.
All through Brave, I was wiping my eyes on the neckline of my purple/pink striped mullet dress, muttering, “F*** this movie.”
Sometimes it’s easier to let the movies do the work because the visuals and characters can say what I can’t. I remember once, during the biggest fight my mom and I ever had – I don’t even remember the specifics of it, just that for some reason, we really hated each other at that time – I brought home a copy of The Joy Luck Club from the video rental place where I was working. Mom had said she wanted to see it. There was a copy in stock at closing, so I grabbed it and a pizza from the Little Caesar’s next door, and took it all home.
We stayed up well past midnight seething, eating pizza, and watching our movie with sharp exhalations and side long glances at each other. By the end credits, though, we were both in tears, holding each other, blubbering, “I’m sorry!”
Brave was such a surprise because it was so much more than a movie about a girl becoming a heroine. It’s also an incredibly accurate portrayal of what inevitably happens between mothers and daughters. I’ve seen a lot of films surrounding mother-daughter relationships, and Brave was by far the most honest.
There comes a point when you think you’re communicating, but you’re not. You and your mom look at each other and think, “Where did this monster come from? What happened to my baby girl/ my mom? How could she do this to me?” For a period of time, words seem to only come across as a series of growls, roars, and swipes.
I also really liked that Brave showed just how much it sucks to be a princess – flagrantly flying in the face of Disney princess juggernaut – and simultaneously identifying the impossibilities faced by real women seeking any kind of power position outside the home: she must be patient and compassionate, she must be cautious and exquisitely poised, she must strive for perfection and not snort when laughing.
Mostly, I liked that it’s unabashedly a girl’s story (which is different than, say, a story about a girl, like Cinderella). My biggest concern when I first began seeing promos for Brave was that it would be unisex, that the story would work exactly the same if Merida’s character were a boy. Girls’ and women’s stories are not taken seriously in entertainment and are often wrapped up in rom-com crap or shoved off to indie status where a general audience will never see them.
The typical, narrow-minded marketing approach for a movie like Brave would have been to make it a generic adventure story with a girl filling the traditionally central male role. And she probably would have been given a close male friend who shared the adventure with her, to get boys in the theater. Or it would have been about both of them from the beginning and he’d turn out to be a prince and they’d get engaged by the end or some $h!t like that.
Making a big budget tentpole about a girl’s relationship with her mom? Where they’re rescuing each other? That took guts. That was brave.