The Brave One

Blurring the line between good and bad is a good bet for a screenwriter nowadays. Good versus evil is so passe. The good guys usually win and they’re often uninspiring. Oftentimes I find myself rooting for the bad guy, hoping he’ll change his ways. Which is why The Brave One, which stars Jodie Foster and opened in the US this past weekend, is my redemption–kind of. Foster plays Erica Bain, vigilante by night, radio-show host by day. A devastating event turns Bain into a different person. Once, when asked by the detective close to her case (Terrence Howard) how she could have gone on after the tragedy she replied that she didn’t, she simply became a different person. It’s a bit shallow, especially when your trail is littered with bodies.

Is Erica Bain heroic? The strength of The Shallow One is its categorical refusal to make you believe this. Bain does what some of us, but not all, might have done. Our brave new world is rife with examples of things gone awry: citizens arrests, neighborhood watches, to not say anything about video cameras peering at us. Jodie Foster’s Bain is a composite of the SWF with a grudge–only, she woke up to that fact after being in the coma for three weeks.

Brave comes in a superb visual package in which each scene meshes into the next with gusto so that never a moment is wasted. There’s a great sense of timing in director Neil Jordan’s approach. Why do some directors have it and others, not?