Bruised [Grade: 84.09%]

Director: Halle Berry

Story By: Michelle Rosenfarb

Cast: Halle Berry, Danny Boyd Jr, Sheila Atim, Adriane Lenox, Adan Canto, & Shamier Anderson

* * *

You know… to be Halle’s directorial debut, it was actually pretty decent, and Netflix was a good fit. 

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Below are my grades for key components in #Bruised that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character (pertaining to arc/development &/or delivery). FYI: My A=95, A- =90, B=85, B-=80…etc. My D- =60 and my F=50

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start, OR experience is intentionally relevant to the genre and executed well–nothing more), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: A-

Plot & Story: A-

Pacing: A

Character: A-

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Entertainment Factors

General Public: Interesting Enough

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Rush

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Watch

Sport/Drama Fans: Interesting Enough

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1. Halle Berry looks damn good! I wanna be like her when I grow up. 😩

2. Awwwwww… Danny Boyd Jr is just SO adorable. 😩😩

3. The title comes across as the primary theme in this film with a minor theme connected to “second chances,” and both are followed through pretty well. 👍🏾👍🏾

Act Three solidifies the messaging around “our ability to clean up and push through our bruises” through dialogue by Berry’s character in relation to her fight, and brings a happy conclusion to the idea of “second chances.” 

Act Two attempts to use her family history as another “bruise” needing to be cleaned up and pushed through, but it is a little forced due to adding the overused, Tyler Perry-ish form of abuse on women. It feels extremely random and sudden, and then character interactions before and after have no continuity with this reveal. It would’ve been better to just leave the family issue as it was when we first meet the mother in Act One. BUT the strength is the displaying of Berry’s character trying to make this “second chance” work. 

Act One kicks off the messaging in a clever way using the bruises from the sport of boxing/MMA fighting that only exists as a response to the bruises of her past (which we learn a little about in Act Two), and is negatively impacted due to a life decision bruise which is the reason for the story in the first place. 

4. Baby listen… Shamier Anderson… 👀😜😍

5. The character Jackie Justice, played by Berry, carries the theme well. The film starts with a quick glimpse of who she was and where she is now, which is a bruise to the ego and self esteem. The entire film is Berry’s character barely surviving and pushing through all the bruises/disappointments/failures of her life, to only be reunited with the biggest bruise of all, adding purpose/fuel to her need to survive and push through in order to heal—this second chance. So this was strong. 👍🏾👍🏾

My issue is mainly the character arc in Act Two which expounds more on the family history. We we first meet Jackie’s mother, it’s obvious the relationship isn’t strong. The mother even says things to suggest how she lives is possibly the reason why this relationship and dynamic is on the rocks. Then in Act Two, it’s as if that relationship and dynamic is just “functionally toxic” vs on the rocks. Furthermore, there’s the sudden “reveal” of Jackie’s childhood that’s a result of the mother’s way of life…BUT all we see is an example of a typical black grandmother…it just didn’t translate well for Jackie’s character arc. 

6. You know what I would’ve loved to see? Manny “putting his hands up” every time Jackie was in the ring… 😩😩

7. Welp… I guess Desi had a purpose, served his purpose, and that was that… 👀🤷🏾‍♂️😂

8. The end of Act One, with the introduction of the mother, really helps move the film nicely. At that point, Acts Two and Three pretty much allow Berry to merge this new endeavor with a role she’s familiar with as a trying matriarch which supports the theme of “second chances.” And that’s not to say Act One dragged. It didn’t. It actually served its purpose of setting up our character and getting to the point. 

Additionally, the pacing provides what you’d expect of a boxing/fighting film—a training montage—which was great to see with a woman lead. 👍🏾👍🏾

9. It’s the intentional soundtrack, for me. 🙌🏾

10. Bruised is a story about a former MMA Fighter given second chances. It’s a pretty simple story that is decently executed. 👍🏾

Act One allows us to see Berry’s character current situation after getting a quick glimpse as to how she got there. It ends with proposals to second chances, both connected to the bruises on her life and esteem. 

Act Two is all about Berry’s character trying to take advantage of these second chances despite the challenges / bruises she’s dealing with. But again, the story makes that forced call to add that family history bruise that really wasn’t necessary.

Act Three is the somewhat happy ending to the work Berry’s character has put in for the second chance in order to heal her bruises. 👍🏾👍🏾

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Overall #Bruised gives Creed – meets the relationship struggle between Khaila and Isaiah in Losing Isaiah – meets the bond between Suge and Celie in The Color Purple. 

This was a pretty solid debut for Halle Berry as a director, and the representation of women is astronomical. There’s the director, the writer, the lead character, all the way to the soundtrack (there’s Saweetie, Cardi B, Latto, Young MA, Erica Banks, and Flo Millie to name a few).

Now I am on the fence with my entertainment scale. On one hand, because of the representation and familiar storyline that’s executed well, I mean… why wouldn’t it be “worth the watch?” 

But then on the other hand, there’s nothing really different and exciting about the story… like, it follows a very basic boxing/fighter storyline with an interesting turn of events that’s also a little familiar. So it’s nothing to rush and feel like you need to see incase spoiling conversations begin to happen on your timeline. I also feel like this story is almost 2 decades behind—it just feels like an early 2000s film, to me. 

SN: I can’t help but think her name was homage to Jack Johnson… 

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