I admit I have never read a Nora Roberts novel. Mostly because my bibliophile friends have generally hated on them as viciously as they hate on Chetan Bhagat’s books. But if Brazen, the new ‘thriller’ streaming on Netflix is anything to go by, I haven’t missed out on much in life. This unintentional parody stars 90s heartthrob Alyssa Milano as Grace, a popular novelist (uh oh), whose sister gets murdered. My love for the genre drew me to watch the movie, but it turned out to be silly, predictable, and almost (I so wanted to avoid this pun) brazen in its estimation of audience’s intelligence. If this were a spoof, it would’ve been a very enjoyable take on thrillers. But sadly, this film takes itself very seriously, even if the audience struggles to do the same.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of Nora Roberts’ pulpy novel ‘Brazen Virtue’, this Netflix thriller is about novelist Grace (Alyssa Milano), who early in the film informs that she writes about patriarchy, and oppression. All the while her sister Kathleen (Emellie Ullerup) insists that Grace makes her millions by writing about women getting murdered. I guess patriarchy is somehow related to murder. But wonder of wonders, sister Kathleen (who is also harboring a BDSM secret) ends up getting murdered while Grace is busy making out with hunky neighbor Ed (Sam Page), who just happens to be a police detective (crave for this kind of convenience in life).
Earlier in the movie Ed casually stops a store robbery. I should’ve read the signs right then. Of course, defying all logic, the police captain assigns Ed and Grace (the victim’s sister) the responsibility to catch the killer. Soon, everyone is questioned – the ex husband, Kathleen’s co workers and students (she plays a teacher- well, at least that’s her day job), all of whom look super suspicious. Worst of all, everyone seems to know that Kathleen moonlights as a dominatrix on a seedy cam site. All except her next door neighbor, and well, her sister.
Soon, more bodies, of more cam girls, turn up and now our heroes are looking for a serial killer who hates dominatrixes (what in the actual…?). You see the actual killer coming from 10 miles away, but of course, when faced with the protagonist, he first explains his actions, laughs maniacally, and then proceeds to attempt murder (you know, the usual villainy stuff).
Director Monika Mitchell shifts gears after a string of horrible Christmas movies. The result? A horrible serial killer movie. To be fair, though, she is let down by an awful script, which in turn is let down by an awful source material. You see, the rot runs deep. I still have hopes from Mitchell, though, and I wish to see what she can do with a better script.
Alyssa Milano tries her best to keep a straight face through most of the laughable happenings around her. For the most part, she succeeds, so can’t really blame her. Emilie Ullerup is all right as the murdered sister, and Sam Page looks sufficiently handsome. The rest of the cast have acted worse than my 5th grade drama team. Especially all the ‘actors’ cast as students (one of whom is a cheap Timothee Chalamet knock off), are atrociously bad.
Brazen is not even a ‘so-bad-its-good’ kinda thriller. You may have a couple of good chuckles here and there, but that’s that. If you still want to insult your intelligence, it’s streaming on Netflix.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.