A man slaving in corporate America is in love with his asshole boss's wife and his wife won't leave him despite the boss obviously cheating on her. The man is in a miserable marriage where even she doesn't respect him. The man wakes up one day with a white mask on his face and much ambition pumping through his veins. He uses this blank face to take revenge on those who have wronged him.
"If I could fuck a car, I'd never leave my garage."
George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Crazies, The Dark Half, Monkey Shines, Creepshow, and Knightriders, delivers Bruiser. The storyline of this film is okay but the film felt very 80s and low budget. The film wasn't overly well written and the acting was average. The cast includes Jason Flemying, Peter Stormare, Leslie Hope, Nina Garbiras, Andrew Tarbet, and Tom Atkins.
"I may be a loser, but I know exactly what to do with an extension cord."
Bruiser is a movie I grabbed off Netflix because it is directed by the horror legend George A. Romero and I had never see it. This thriller was fairly mediocre and not on par with The Crazies or similar psychological takes on character situations Romero has historically delivered so well. Overall, this is only worth seeing if you're a Romero diehard.
"Your taste is in your ass."
Nobody can fault the filmmaker for wanting to elevate the genre, but here he seems to be biting the hand that has fed him so well for decades now. This is a silly, overly arty and extremely pretentious film that thinks it has "something to say" but fails miserably in every possible respect. Whatever message it's trying to get across is lost in the sheer boredom of the whole thing, as the story and characters couldn't be more uninteresting.
Not helping the situation any is the lead performance by Jason Flemyng, who is incredibly bland even before donning his mysterious white mask. He's even worse afterwards. The tone of the film is all over the map, with the central story being very modern but a subplot involving the police investigation with Tom Atkins is weirdly old school with the music and Atkins tossing around the word "dame" all the time. The two worlds do not mesh at all.
Any hope that this would at least be redeemed by a decent ending are squashed as soon as the credits roll. It doesn't make any more sense than the rest of the film. "Bruiser" isn't bad enough to call into question Romero's talents as a filmmaker, but it is a misguided mess with precious little to like. You have to wonder what he was thinking.
[originally posted 30Nov2001]
George Romero and the Hollywood mainstream have been making moves towards compromise for almost thirty years now. Romero's been getting less graphic in relation to the rest of the world, and the rest of the world has been getting more graphic in relation to him. Because of this, it should be no surprise to anyone that some of the purists (actually, quite a few of them) have labelled Romero a sellout or worse, leading to the commercial failures of Monkey Shines (a fine movie) and The Dark Half (a... not so fine movie), and Romero's subsequent self-removal from the film world for seven long years. He returns with Bruiser, a film which never received theatrical distro in the United States. Thankfully, someone at Lion's Gate had the sense to at least put the VHS and DVD out over here in preparation for Romero's first bonafide blockbuster, an adaptation of King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon due out in 2002. [ed. note 2014: we still haven't seen it.]
Bruiser is another slice of Romero's favorite pie-an examination of the role of the outcast in a satirized version of society. Twenty years ago, Romero enjoyed forcing his point home with buckets of gore, but he's grown up a little these days and gone out on a limb. Bruiser is, for the most part, gore-free, leaving us to ask ourselves whether Romero's filmmaking style alone is enough to make Bruiser as relevant as Knightriders, as savage as Dawn of the Dead, and/or as heartbreaking as Martin. My answer, after a few days of reflection, is a qualified yes.
I say "qualified" because, while the subject matter is unmistakably Romero, the style of direction here is just as unquestionably Argento. This is a giallo film without the violence and with more of a backing story; Romero has replaced the gore with Argento's operatic, sweeping style of filmmaking. So the gimmick hasn't disappeared as much as it has changed.
In the new episode of Pie a la George, Everyman, known here as Henry Creedlow (Jason Flemyng, late of From Hell and every Guy Ritchie film ever made), wakes up one morning and realizes two things: a. he's losing it, and b. he may have never had it in the first place. Henry Creedlow's first morning as these revelations come to him is filled with fantasies of violent things he'd like to do to himself and others (cf. Jennifer Connelly's forking of Sean Gullette in Requiem for a Dream last year). While this is happening, he comes to realize that no one he knows actually thinks about him in anything more than a surface way, including his boss Miles (Peter Stormare, of Chocolat, 8MM, Playing God, et [many] al.), his wife Janine (Nina Garbiras, recently of the short-lived TV series "The $treet," who bears more than a passing resemblance to the "dream girl" in Argento's Tenebre), and his high school chum/stockbroker James (Andrew Tarbet, known for The Famous Jett Jackson). The two revelations eventually coalesce to turn Henry into something of a nasty bent-on-being-noticed sociopath.
Many reviews of the film seem to be panning it for relative lack of acting skills; I didn't see it that way at all. Some characters come off as artificial, but they're supposed to be, a la Argento or (as an even better example) Joe Mantegna in Mamet's House of Games. It's all part of the satire. this isn't, thankfully, society as we know it; just as the shopping mall zombies of Dawn of the Dead were American consumer culture, the shallow husks we are handed here are Hollywood power-structure culture. They're no less mindless for not being caked with blue makeup and covered with the blood of their recent meals.
Bruiser is definitely worth a look, especially if seven years of Romerolessness have had you climbing the walls. While its lack of groundbreaking psyche-related revelations don't put it in the same class as Dawn of the Dead or Martin, it's good, solid filmmaking. *** 1/2