Released: 13th January
Seen: 23rd January
Normally I wouldn’t expect to be dealing with this until June, that’s the pattern that Netflix has created with their release of Lifetime Wannabes like Hostage House, Dangerous Lies and Secret Obsession. I was meant to have a few months before I had to deal with this bullshit, there was meant to be time to mentally prepare for the onslaught of bad plotting and bad acting one expects from this “midday movie made on a budget of couch cushion change by a writer who had 5 hours to complete the entire script” but nope, 2022 sucks and therefore we have to deal with Brazen now because why not?
Brazen tells the story of world-famous super author Grace (Alyssa Milano) who has just finished the tour for her absolutely fantastic world-changing murder novel that doesn’t sound like absolute garbage when it’s read aloud in the first scene she’s introduced in. Anyway, Grace goes to visit her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup) for some reason and after a while walks in to find Kathleen’s been murdered. What follows is Grace deciding she’s going to try and help her neighbour, officer Ed (Sam Page) to solve the murder which will lead her into the world of dominatrixes, webcamming and more murder… all of which is somehow about as dull as a piece of blank paper.
In theory the idea should work, there is a long history of “crime novel writers doing police work” that has been the basis of two long-running shows that were genuinely great (Murder She Wrote & Castle for those playing the home game). The catch is, Grace is no Jessica Fletcher. You know a character is going to be bad when they say a line like “You always had a choice” and your only response is a hearty “Fuck you” because she said that in response to her sister saying that she didn’t have a choice when her child was taken by her ex… and somehow, that’s also the only time the character got a reaction out of me.
Maybe, MAYBE if Grace was just a complete irredeemable asshole the entire time but was also really good at her job that might be interesting but she spends most of Brazen just being either dull and lifeless or a mild irritant. She never really adds anything special to the proceedings, certainly doesn’t offer any special insight into the crime. Let’s put it this way, I completely bought that Jessica Fletcher could have solved every single one of those murders on her own without any help from anyone else just based on her knowledge of how storytelling worked… I don’t believe Grace would know where to start because she’s never presented as a good writer.
To be fair, she’s not the only bad character in Brazen… everyone else is pretty bad too. The cops are bad, the students are bad, the ex-husband is laughably bad, everyone just has nothing interesting that makes it possible to care about them. This cast is just incredibly dull and lifeless… a phrase I shouldn’t be able to use when discussing a film that revolves around the murder of a dominatrix.
That entire dominatrix plotline just feels like it’s there to imply luridness without actually going there. There are a few scenes in Brazen where we see the domination session and it’s so laughably tame on so many levels that they could’ve just removed it and made the entire movie about the murder of a teacher and lost nothing except for Alyssa Milano wearing fetish gear which adds nothing to the proceedings.
It’s honestly just kind of an insult to actual sex workers that their job is being treated more like an oddity that’s some lurid set dressing for this bland piece of garbage. If you want a good thriller about dominatrixes, that’s why Use Me exists. Brazen exists because sometimes you need to put something on to make it seem like you’re at home when you go out shopping!
It’s also kind of obvious that Brazen just had no idea who the actual killer was (which is weird since this thing is adapted from a novel) because by the time we get to the actual reveal it’s kind of hard not to go “Who the fuck is that?” because the killer has blended in so well with the entire cast and shown up in exactly once scene prior to their big reveal that they might have something to do with this. It’s a murder mystery that the audience has no way of solving based on what’s presented, you just have to guess based on the tropes of the genre which feels like a massive cop-out.
At the end of the day, Brazen is a dull lifeless film full of bad acting that wears kink like a bad outfit which it hopes will make it look interesting but just reveals how dull it actually is. It’s not even so bad it’s good, it’s just another in the long list of films that Netflix made to take up space on their site that no one else can take away from them… I don’t know who keeps greenlighting these things, but they need to get just a hint of taste. Good or bad, I don’t care which one, but something so they’ll stop putting on this bland lifeless bullshit.