By Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
DISCLAIMER: Bruised is screening as a work-in-progress at TIFF ’20
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised. It follows disgraced MMA fighter Jackie “Justice” (Halle Berry) who has been struggling to get by after losing an important match years ago. Since then, she’s been living with her Manager-Bboyfriend Desi (Adan Canto). One night, Desi tricks Jackie into an underground fight and her passion for the sport reignites. That same night, her six-year-old son whom she abandoned years ago, is left at her doorstep. This sends Jackie on a redemption path both to prove herself both in the ring, and as a mother to Manny.
Bruised follows the classic Athlete/Fighter redemption archetype, told through a new lens. While this has been explored before with a central female character, typically see these stories with men in the lead. Berry is well aware that a woman can pack a punch too. Early, she throws us right into the ring in Jackie’s enraged world. Her short-temper is shown in the opening scene where she attacks a teenager because he films her while she’s changing. Jackie’s brute force is shown also to us immediately. In the underground match, we see just how violent and ruthless she can be when faced with a worthy competitor.
At the center of everything is Berry’s performance. She does an excellent job channeling Jackie’s pent-up rage, but also showing her weaknesses. It’s clear in the First Act that Jackie is ready to fire after her previous match. Also, there is tenderness to her when she is paired with Manny. Those quiet moments between mother and son allow Berry to show her range. It’s also an honest depiction of the female personality, that a duality of tough and gentle can co-exist.
Berry has surrounded herself with strong talent. Toronto’s own, and TIFF ’19 Rising Star Shamier Anderson is great as Jackie’s newly-minted Manager with an agenda. Canto turns-in a strong performance as Jackie’s supportive, yet abusive Manager-Boyfriend. However, the most memorable performance from the Supporting Cast comes from TIFF ’20 Rising Star Sheila Atim. She commands the screen as Jackie’s ‘zen’ Trainer.
Berry sets her Film amidst the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey, taking us into Jackie‘s heart and soul. She shoots the training and fight scenes with passion and intensity. The Film’s blockbuster fight scenes are its brightest moments. While the story veers often to other competing plot lines surrounding her family and love, which ultimately fail to come to full fruition and get resolved, we wanted more training and fights and that always should have been the central focus. A bit more judicious editing and a shorter run time would benefit this work-in-progress.
Bruised screens at TIFF ’20:
Sat, Sep 12 6:00pm
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Sat, Sep 12 7:45pm
Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
Fri, Sep 18 9:00pm
Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
#SPOTTED: ADAN CANTO + LAMONICA GARRETT IN TORONTO FOR “DESIGNATED SURVIVOR”
Kiefer‘s back! Toronto’s pride and joy makes his way back to the City for new series DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. Filming between March and October, the eOne-distributed Series centers on a low level cabinet member named Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) who suddenly is appointed POTUS after a catastrophic attack on the United States.
We spotted Co-stars LaMonica Garrett (Transformers: Dark od the Moon, Daddy’s Home) and Adan Canto (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Following) out and about as the Series gears up for production this week. Garrett plays a secret service officer to Sutherland‘s Tom. Canto plays White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Aaron. Both handsome lads were more than kind to stop for a Snap. We’re really curious about this Series which also stars Maggie Q, Italia Ricci and Natascha McElhone.
See our Snaps with Barrett and Canto:
Hmm… curious if we’ll see Kiefer next weekend at the Canadian Screen Awards? His brother Rossif is nominated for his Film, RIVER.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)