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Essman, E. (2008). The Brave One directed by Neil Jordan Warner Brothers, 2007, 119 minutes. Fort Da, 14(1):105-109.

(2008). Fort Da, 14(1):105-109

Film Reviews

The Brave One directed by Neil Jordan Warner Brothers, 2007, 119 minutes

Reviewed by
Eric Essman, M.A.

A black slate stairway leads into [Central Park] at Strangers’ Gate, and to enter the park there is to enter a fairy tale

Rebecca Chace, 2003, “Portals to the 19th Century”

One seeks to preserve oneself against the injuriousness of the other, but if one were successful at walling oneself off from injury, one would become inhuman.

Judith Butler, 2005, On Giving an Account of Oneself, p. 103

Jodie Foster's filmography and name above the title advertise that, even under extreme circumstances, her character will retain or reestablish a measure of composure. But, as public-radio monologist and New York City flâneur Erica Bain (one thinks “pain” but also “bane”), victimized by a brutal assault, she assumes a mechanical strategy of annihilating grief through revenge, threatening her own psychic death. Directed by Neil Jordan, whose The Crying Game (1992) documented the danger and poignancy of transgressing gender, racial, and political boundaries, Foster's ironically titled The Brave One reprises the urban-vigilante melodrama as a case study of inconsolability and depersonalization, one in which the pursuit of justice as a substitute for mourning is burdened with the impossibility of restoring a previous order.

Such restoration is obviously impossible because of death, but also because the order “before” is always evanescent, if not illusory. The Brave One begins in an eloquent flurry of exposition. A sinuous title sequence deconstructs the imaginary unity of the city and hints at the fragile integrity of Erica's personality. As the camera scans Manhattan through undulating panes of glass, we hear Erica in voice-over, nostalgically conjuring the recent history of New York.

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