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On Wednesday, Netflix proved that they are back at it again with yet another original movie; and this time, it’s intense. Halle Berry’s new film, ‘Bruised’ (2020), packs a punch of emotion (and blood) as the film tackles the subject of when a woman gets her chance in the MMA fighting ring. And, all the while, proving that despite her combative nature she can still be a caring and responsible mother when the time comes. The film encompasses true inspiration and vulnerability as the leading character is stripped emotionally naked to the audiences; revealing deeper parts of herself to us in the utmost beautiful way.
‘Bruised’ – A Nurturing Nature In A Rather Un-nurturing Sport
Directed by and starring Halle Berry, ‘Bruised’ follows Jackie Justice, a defamed MMA fighter, as she attempts to find redemption within the ring; and along the way, facing her demons as she newly (and unexpectedly) steps into the world of motherhood after her son, Manny, who she gave up many years ago suddenly returns. Jackie’s world is filled with criticism towards her regained passion towards her fighting career mixed with her new responsibilities as a mother, and this ultimately challenges the path (and opportunities) that Jackie has to take to achieve both individuality and the role of a caretaker.
Ageism and fragility are prominent elements that become clear to the audience throughout this film. This is mainly through how the characters continuously criticize Jackie’s age when she begins her story by slowly coming back into the fighting ring, and becoming a mother on top of this certainly doesn’t help her. In the beginning, it seems as though Jackie’s hiatus from her fighting career caused her to become somewhat out of practice, which overall brings about critical power that these others hold over her feel more overbearing as she subconsciously takes her matured age into account.
However, as Jackie continues to ignore everyone and stays true to who she is, Jackie becomes the person that she had originally set out to be from the very start. And, in the process of all of this, Jackie crushes down the wall of this preconceived notion of a more “masculine sport” allowing female members to not have as much success as compared to their male peers, and she showcases this through her determination of using her muscle and passion for fighting to her advantage. She proves to everyone around her that no matter her age, her new responsibility of being a mother, and her being tending to be a bit more fragile due to not fighting for long, Jackie can and always will be able to be a true fighter; even if the sport doesn’t conventionally fit.
Portraying Femininity In A Brute Environment
Halle Berry does a rather magnificent job in her role of Jackie Justice within ‘Bruised’, and the way she conveys all the elements of who Jackie is through her performance feels wonderful. Within the human condition, there are both feminine and masculine energies within an individual. The majority of the time, societal notions tend to force normalcy that certain genders are somehow destined to only spend all their time focusing on one of these energies; specifically concerning this film, women feel as though they always have to focus on their feminine energies. Halle Berry tackles this topic within her performance subtly, but still all around effectively strong at the same time. Berry does this mainly through how she exemplifies rather brutish energy hidden in the foundation of her character through how intense the fight scenes are acted out; absolute maddening energy as she attempts to win the round in the ring.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the other characters don’t stand out within the film as well. The other actors’ performances are simply wonderful when coupled with Berry’s performance; specifically, Shelia Atim as Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa (a fight league promoter that promises Jackie a life back into her old roots in the ring) who becomes a wonderful asset to Jackie’s journey back into redemption. The bond between Jackie and Bobbi becomes wonderful and leaves a sense of hope as everyone else around Jackie doesn’t have nearly an ounce of faith in her as Bobbi does. Overall, it isn’t a small thing to say that Berry and Atim’s performances are what completely make ‘Bruised’ stand out amongst other fighting sports movies.
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Cinematic Techniques Encased In A Nurtured Film
Jackie Justice wasn’t the only nurturing figure involved in the creation of the hard-hitting world of ‘Bruised’. Halle Berry and screenwriter of the film Michelle Rosenfarb work alongside cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco to develop an eye-catching and emotionally-provoking piece of Cinema. The choice of the variety of types of shots used (close-ups and choice of mainly hand-held rather than the use of a tripod) mixed with the overall dull and greyed color scheme follow incredibly well with the seeming theme of the film: striving for redemption in a hopeless world.
It isn’t easy to capture the audience into feeling as nearly burnt out and hopeless as the characters do as they go throughout their journeys in films; but somehow, all the crew behind ‘Bruised’ managed to amazingly do just so. It was also interesting to notice how the different types of shots used all seemed to have a purpose to each scene. For example, there seem to be calmer and steadier shots (and somewhat brighter colors) when Jackie is with her son compared to when she’s with her abusive boyfriend; to which the camera is shakier and the colors are nearly blackened as the bruises on Jackie’s skin.
There are moments in Cinema where you can tell whether or not the cast and crew behind the film had loved the project they were working on, and if they truly took time and effort into making it. This especially rings true for ‘Bruised’, which makes the film even more enjoyable to watch; no matter if the film became something to write home about. But, it is this element that brings forth one of the many reasons why this film is so enjoyable from the comfort of your own home.
Looking Towards A Brighter Path
In the end, ‘Bruised’ accomplishes a lot more than it appears it would on the surface; and that is what makes this film stand out and ring a sense of being supreme of portraying a woman fighting for what she knows to be right for herself in a harsh world. The aspect of getting to watch it with friends and family from just about anywhere also really encompasses what makes this film great. It inspires you to get up and fight for your individuality and allows you to do just such right after the credits roll and you press pause on the remote as you process everything you’ve just watched.
‘Bruised’ is certainly an intense movie, and it is something that sits with you for quite a while. A world filled with blood and pain (both physically and emotionally) can truly toll audiences in an oddly beneficial way. As mentioned before, this film admittedly doesn’t seem as though it would have as much of a fantastically developed world and set of characters as it did. Particularly with how it so effectively touches on ageism and fragility seen in the role of motherhood by using the career of MMA fighting to showcase such. However, I promise you all when I say that no matter if you love fighting sports movies or not, you’ll surely adore spending a small part of your afternoon engrossing yourself in ‘Bruised’.
By Leah Donato
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