Directed By Monika Mitchell
Starring – Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Malachi Weir
The Plot – When her sister is killed and her double life as a webcam performer is revealed, Grace (Milano) ignores the warnings of a cool-headed detective (Page) and gets involved in the case.
Rated TV-14 for scenes of violence and Adult language
Though a back-handed compliment in reality, “Brazen” is the best kind of cinematic trash, in that it very much shamelessly subscribes to the notion of lunacy and ridiculousness painting its way into the heart of its mindless audience, complete with unintentional endless laughs for the prescription. This certainly allows audiences to have fun with the experience, but more importantly than that conjures up authenticity in the range of its literary counterpart, where realism and logic are suppressed for a simplistic formula too silly to ever do anything but burn 90 minutes from a slow-moving afternoon, in the same way most trashy novels credibly admit. This too is a credit to “Brazen” because the plot materializes almost immediately from the opening minutes without ever relenting throughout the entirety of the picture. This and the aforementioned quality of the material certainly kept me from ever feeling bored with the engagement, while transcribing a palpable urgency to the unraveling narrative that is not only evident in the movements of the characters, but also in the pacing of the storytelling.
The term Brazen means shamelessly bold, and such a definition can be evidenced in nearly every aspect of the movie’s production, which feels visually plucked as a hybrid between Hallmark Christmas movies and Lifetime Television sleaze. Such an interpretation isn’t just a surface level conveying in the confines of bland direction, lifeless acting, or heavy-handed expositional dialogue, but also in the creative minds working behind the film. Like Mitchell, the ensemble cast, the producers, and even some of the writers have indeed worked on several Hallmark Christmas films, and that unshakeable familiarity rears itself in nearly every frame throughout this heavily flawed experience. This is the kind of film where a literary crime novelist knows how to field an investigation far more effectively than that of a town’s corresponding police squad, complete with her bursting into meetings and degrading the expertise of those sworn to serve and protect in such a career elective with the kind of ignorance usually reserved for a film’s opening victim. The commentary itself about the world wide web and underground sex voyeurism is about as risqué as a middle aged woman trying out a new Sade record to spice up a decaying marriage, and the overwhelmingly tame encompassing of the visuals and sexual material really serves the desperation of the clients superbly, especially considering the rating is never even remotely tested with anything visually beyond lingerie or thematically beyond an on-screen personality holding up a whip to convey just how provocative she is. Problematic circumstances with the script certainly do not relent as the film persists, transitioning to an encompassing mystery that is not only among the easiest to accurately predict that I’ve ever seen, but also leads to an inevitably disappointing reveal in killer motivations that certainly subscribes to Lifetime’s “Men are evil” propaganda, instead of illustrating something compelling for the dynamic of the corresponding characterization. Even if you’re only halfway paying attention to the movie, the obviousness of the mystery and limitations of the leads feel far more geared towards a narrative where the killer is revealed in the beginning instead of the ending, all the while outlining one of those annoyances in screenplays, where my wealth of knowledge in watching one of these films every week has me paused and waiting for the characters to catch up to matters that I solved an hour ago. As for those characters, they are played with the kind of depth of a 2 AM infomercial ensemble, especially in Milano and Page who sleep their way through arcs that have very little for either of them to do, made worse by the complete lack of chemistry between them that makes them feel like nagging siblings instead of suitable partners. Milano in particular, constantly grated on my nerves with the condescending nature of her deliveries with anyone she interacted with, especially with those tasked to help her, creating a protagonist outline that constantly embodies the struggle of the production, where a varying angle could’ve instilled something fresh and indulging to the experience of the disappointed audience. Such a limitation is equally conveyed in the blandness of the shot photography itself, which could’ve prescribed something substantially stimulating in the concepts of double lives and the underlining sex business that persists on the net. It’s all for nothing as the film doesn’t even have a cinematographer, so Mitchell is forced to double task in a production that she already feels in over her head with, and here made worse with a cold familiarity in identity that feels closer to cable television rather than the provocative seduction of the silver screen. “Brazen” of course wasn’t geared for such a big screen enveloping, but the lack of inspiration here dooms it almost entirely on arrival, cementing us an ambiguity in visual consistency that honestly looks like it could’ve been produced by anyone.
January strikes once more with “Brazen”, a lifeless, toothless trash dump from Netflix whose only consistency is in solidifying the elements of futility that make it feel like a hybrid of Hallmark and Lifetime Television properties. The film is so bad it’s good, but the material pertaining to its taboo subject matter is never so good it’s bad, crafting an uninspired creative juxtaposition whose escapism in the pages of its literary companion wield something that is tonally and mysteriously absent.
My Grade: 2/10 or F