There was a moment when Netflix started to release so much content that it was impossible to just see every single weekly release. The amount of content meant that there was always something to watch, but it also meant that the quality of the content was progressively shifting into bad territory. Quantity over quality became the name of the game, and while Netflix still releases some of the best TV shows around, they are now the exception. The norm is these cheap and awful films and TV shows. Brazen is one of those terrible movies.
Brazen is directed by Monika Mitchell and stars Alyssa Milano and Sam Page. The film tells the story of Milano’s character, Grace Miller, a very successful writer of murder mysteries who is called by her sister out of the blue. Everything seems kind of normal, but when Grace’s sister is killed, a bunch of secrets starts coming to light, and Grace will take justice into her own hands by solving the crime.
There’s a whole genre of novels that work inside the crime genre, that are complete schlock. These types of stories are intended to be read quickly. The infamous airport paperbacks, for example. These stories follow a basic premise and a template that makes them all feel the same. Brazen itself is based on one such novel, “Brazen Virtue” by Nora Roberts. So, it isn’t a surprise when the film adaptation just follows the most simplistic of plots and becomes one of the most predictable movies in recent memory.
There’s nothing wrong per se with the movie. It is shot and directed in a competent way, but there’s zero flair or artistry involved in this production. It feels very much like a Hallmark type of film. Movies that are written and shot incredibly quickly and then are released to the public just to fill some space in the roster.
The film’s issues become apparent from the get-go with the use of dialogue. The “show don’t tell” guideline for movies allows the story to make use of every single element that composes a film; visuals, symbolism, music, everything. Brazen throws that advice through the window and instead chooses to say everything. From backstories to motivation, everything is verbalized, and the result is a dialogue that feels unnatural and makes the actors look bad.
It’s not that the actors are doing a good job, either. They are really working with very bad equipment, so there is just so much they can do on their own to elevate it. Conversations are often awkward and strange. It becomes worse when the characters start talking about solving the crime. It takes all the tension from the scenes when the characters are talking as if they were playing a session of Clue, instead of actually solving the real murder of a person.
The plot also telegraphs the solution to the mystery almost at the beginning, and from there you’re just waiting for the movie to catch up to you. That makes the movie boring in every single way.
Milano does exactly what you expect her to do. She has never been a great actress, but she has a lot of charisma to balance that out. Sadly, here, she is on autopilot, and the same goes for Sam Page. Their chemistry just doesn’t exist, and the way their romantic subplot develops is just way too fast. Especially when taking into account the whole murder plot that is being thrown at them. This tone-deaf atmosphere makes the characters feel like cartoons.
The film is not meant to be taken seriously, because it shows institutions such as schools and the police behaving in the oddest and unbelievable of ways. However, the movie seems to be lost to it and takes every single scene seriously. The third act is filled with decisions that just look and sound dumb, but the movie keeps presenting these ideas as if they were really clever. By the time the movie ends, you just can’t believe these took time to make and then 90 minutes for you to watch.
At this point, we don’t expect much out of Netflix’s weekly catalog, but this could be right at the bottom of the barrel. It is expected that the quality has been diminished with the increase in quantity, but for that same reason, there are so many other great things to watch on Netflix.
This cheap murder mystery doesn’t get a pass.