The Brave

1997

The Brave

Critics Consensus

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33%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 6

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 13,321
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Movie Info

Tired of standing helplessly by while his family struggles with tremendous poverty, a Native American husband and father makes the supreme sacrifice to provide them with a future. Actor Johnny Depp co-wrote, directed and starred in this controversial drama.

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Critic Reviews for The Brave

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for The Brave

  • Mar 11, 2008
    <i>"The final measure of bravery is to stand up to death."</i> <p> The Cannes Film Festival of 1997 was a devastating period for Johnny Depp. The actor had directed, co-written and starred in <i>The Brave</i>, but his efforts were hardly rewarded when he presented the film to audiences at Cannes. Depp's film was subsequently panned severely by critics. This criticism profoundly disheartened Depp, who was so upset he refused to have <i>The Brave</i> released in the US. To this day the film has been buried and forgotten. Some people even exclude the film from the résumés of Depp and Marlon Brando. Not many people are even aware of the film's existence, except for die-hard film buffs and epicentres of Depp devotion. One will unquestionably find it taxing to unearth a copy of this film. It was released on DVD, but limited copies were distributed. Now you'll only find the DVD floating around on eBay or other online stores if you're lucky. If you ask me, this is a true pity. (Why couldn't this instead happen to a more deserving title, such as that dreadful teen sex romp <i>Private Resort</i>? <b>That's</b> a Johnny Depp film that deserves to be removed from existence and get buried for eternity.) By no means is <i>The Brave</i> a masterpiece, but it's a poetic and expressionistic film that marks a very important entry to the résumé of Johnny Depp. It's admirably unconventional and gripping, with a brutal sense of reality permeating every scene. The film's depiction of the American Indian community is unflinching. Instead of creating a feel-good film, Depp directed a deeply depressing, emotive and powerful drama that deserves much more acclaim and attention. The story is derived from Gregory McDonald's novel of the same name. This is a sincere and touching story that poignantly explores themes of bravery, veracity, and strength of character, but above all delves into the lengths a father will travel to in order to protect his family. Depp plays an unemployed, alcoholic American Indian named Rapheal. He was recently released from gaol, and had returned to his family who reside in a shanty-town near a garbage heap. His family is devastatingly stricken by poverty, to the extent that they're struggling to put food on the table. Down on his luck and with little choice, Rapheal investigates a job prospect. At a grotty old warehouse he encounters an enigmatic and creepy cripple known as McCarthy (Brando, in a very brief cameo appearance). Rapheal is offered the chance to star in a snuff film. He will be tortured and killed on film a week hence, and in return his family will receive a hefty $50,000. Thinking solely about his family, Rapheal agrees. From there the film chronicles Rapheal's final 7 days. He reforms relationships with his two children and falls in love with his wife all over again. As Rapheal was given a bit of money upfront, he begins to give his family gifts to ensure he has a magnificent final week. This intriguing premise of sacrifice is worked into a plot about prejudice, social injustice, human corruption and poverty. To an extent his efforts pay off. However, with such a long running time and so little actually going on during these two long hours, the messages are weakened. Johnny's directing and acting are fine by all accounts, but it's the writing that denotes the film's lethal fault. The middle of the film is overlong and narratively inept, with a deficiency of key plot points and general happenings. Unfortunately a few of the stronger scenes are drawn out to abject monotony. It's also worth noting that the film never blatantly tells the viewer that Rapheal will be featured in a snuff film. The best guess of a viewer will have to suffice. The central criticism endured by <i>The Brave</i> was in regards to how unbelievable the story is. If a father allowed himself to be sacrificed in order for his family to live a better life, wouldn't they be mentally scarred for life? However, this is a character flaw as opposed to script flaw. The character of Rapheal is meant to be so daft that he never considers the long-term except for the financial benefits. It also shows Rapheal was willing to give up anything, even his own life, just to ensure his wife and kids could escape poverty. The gripping conclusion depicts an unforgettable, symbolic and ambiguous final image. If you expected Rapheal to break out a gun and dispatch his enemies in slow motion before walking off into the sunset with his girl and his money, then you'll be disappointed. <i>The Brave</i> never strives to be a clichéd Hollywood fare. Instead it stays true to its convictions from the first shot 'til the last. The anticlimactic finale will leave you stunned. Johnny Depp's direction is first-rate. It's obvious he's drawn inspiration from his previous collaborators, such as Jim Jarmusch (<i>Dead Man</i>) and Emir Kusturica (<i>Arizona Dream</i>). Depp keeps the pacing careful and ponderous, albeit slightly sluggish during the middle section. For the most part I was riveted at the drama being offered. Authentic locations and sets are among the film's strengths. The final 5 minutes are particularly artistic. It's clear Depp worked passionately both behind and in front of the camera. The music by Iggy Pop elevates the film to incredible heights. Particularly powerful are the last few minutes as a doomed man heads towards his inevitable fate. The poignant music is emotive and powerful. I will be perfectly frank: when the credits started to roll, tears wet my eyes and I sat completely astonished. This is a film that defies Hollywood clichés and challenges an audiences' notion of a happy ending. Overblown Hollywood bullshit this is not...<i>The Brave</i> is a drama firmly set in reality. Performances are consistently excellent. Johnny Depp is surprisingly convincing as an Indian. This is a versatile performer who continues to tackle new and exciting things. From eccentric performances (<i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i>) to a gunslinger (<i>Once Upon a Time in Mexico</i>) to an Irish playwright (<i>Finding Neverland</i>), Depp is undoubtedly one of today's finest actors. Depp appears to immerse himself into the role of Rapheal. He delivers his lines with such conviction and passion. His striking good looks are just a bonus. <i>The Brave</i> was one of Marlon Brando's final films. The actor is most recognised for films such as <i>The Godfather</i>, <i>Apocalypse Now</i> and <i>A Streetcar Named Desire</i>. In the 90s he was past his prime, but still spending his twilight years acting (no matter how small a role). I liked Brando's performance immensely. At one stage he delivers a seven minute monologue of the exquisite challenge of death. The dialogue itself is somewhat nonsensical (almost an unintended parody of his soliloquies from <i>Last Tango in Paris</i>), but if you just watch Brando's expressions and listen to the intonation, the actor is truly breathtaking. It's a genuine pity that <i>The Brave</i> was so pasted and criticised. This won't ever be hailed as a masterpiece, nor should it be, but you can most certainly do worse. How can Uwe Boll's awful movies be released globally on DVD while this underrated gem continues to rot? Every year there are dreadful blockbusters that still see the light of day while <i>The Brave</i> is unfairly ignored. Needless to say, if you're a fan of Johnny Depp then you can't go past this one. As a first-time director Depp succeeds. That said, however, the film does have its faults. Occasionally the film is dramatically empty. An unfortunate lack of exciting events is disappointing as well. Be that as it may, <i>The Brave</i> is a film I truly love for its poetic imagery and the courage to avoid a clichéd happy ending. I recommend it if you can find a copy.
    Cal ( Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2007
    Directed and starring Johnny Depp, this storyline made for a pretty promising film, however the first half I found pretty boring, the second half started to warm up a little and had some emotional scenes. If this film does nothing else, it shows you how bad poverty can be
    Lady D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 13, 2007
    An early film starring and directed by Johnny Depp. It's a rather slow tale about the length someone is prepared to go to give their family a better life. Starring Marlon Brando as well briefly it's an interesting tale but the film is too long. There aren't many scenes that stand out either and it kinda feels like a made for TV film. For Johnny's die hard fans only really.
    Dean K Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2006
    Johnny Depp's directorial debut never really finds its footing, but I didn't have the same issues with it that most critics seemed to. I've noticed recurring complaints about the film's slow pacing, but I thought that was advantageous to the style Depp was going for. However, it's obvious that the execution of the picture isn't completely successful. It looks like a TV movie, with rigidly staged scenes that don't always transition well. However, there are some things I really like about the film. For one thing, the story is excellent and the conclusion has an impact, despite all the problems preceding it. This is one of Depp's finest achievements as an actor. He crafts a nuanced, empathetic protagonist who is always engaging to watch. Brando's brief appearance is brilliantly played. His acting was unpredictable and vibrant in a way that nobody else's is, and his dialogue with Depp is exciting to watch. The other players deliver performances ranging from good to terrible, which contributes to the movie's inconsistency overall.
    Mike T Super Reviewer

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