This movie pleasantly surprised me! I normally look up a movie to see if the storyline is something I’m interested in. Not this time. I went to see this movie totally blind. When the music started blaring I thought oh no another teen movie, but it was far from that. It was a deep, intricately laced story of many people lost in pain. What do most people do when they are lost and in pain? They rage or they turn inward and plunge themselves in something not so good. This story, this Bravetown story is deeper, so much deeper.
I truly enjoyed Bravetown by Oscar Orlando Torres. He peels back the layers of each character and exposes their pain and weakness. It was poignant and well written with the strong characters of Alex (Josh Duhamel), Josh (Lucas Till) and Mary (Kherington Payne). Each character was in distress and overcome with grief and despair until someone came along and helped each one of them see they were not alone. It showed humanity at its worst when a group of teen townies from Paragon, North Dakota beat up Josh; and it showed humanity at its best when many of these same characters allowed someone into their private space and each became better for it. They put down their guard for a moment and let someone see their true selves; vulnerable yet strong, each in their own way.
This treasure of movie was directed by Daniel Duran. With the music pumping and the people dancing he made me feel like I was right there! I wanted to get up and dance too! I saw many people dancing in their seats! But nothing caught my attention more than the medal tree! Oh my goodness! It was cinematically breathtaking to see this simple tree adorned with hundreds of medals from fallen soldiers that never returned home to this small town. Mary took Josh there and they lit lanterns and stood back and watched as the sun went down. Tears filled my eyes thinking of all the young men/women this small town lost. Whose medal will be put on the tree next?
Maria Bello plays a bitter, hard core alcoholic mother to Josh. She doesn’t give a damn about anything or anyone, including her son Josh. What kind of mother doesn’t have anything for her son to eat or drink in the house? What kind of mother in a fit of anger tells her son, “I never wanted you? Your father talked me into having you then left before you were born.” She made me hate her! As a mom I could not imagine saying anything like that to my son, ever. I was calling her all kinds of names in my head. Is this mother-son relationship salvageable?
Till plays lost soul Josh Harvest. He drinks, and smokes marijuana and pops assorted pills, while he loses himself in his music. This hot music mixer is on his way to stardom, a DJ being recruited by top agents; he’s raw and ready and open for destruction as he DJ’s at the “it” night club in New York … until he overdoses. Will he ruin his chances at stardom or come out on top?
I liked the judge, Jan Skene. Though her part was small, she played a caring judge who was willing to give Josh an alternative to jail. She ordered him to attend court ordered therapy and to go live with his father for a year. I liked her character because too often in this world young people commit crimes to cry out for help in a world they never asked to be brought into. This judge showed compassion when she could have easily sentenced him to jail time.
Duhamel plays well-mannered, thoughtful counselor Alex. He patiently waits for Josh to open up about why he’s using drugs and messing up his life. Alex sees past the anger to the hurt and the pain that’s been holding him back for so long. He’s open to helping others but when will he realize he needs help himself?
Payne plays sweet, mature teen Mary. She is given more responsibilities than a teen should have. She is captain of the dance team and has to care for her mom (Annie) and younger brother Tony. It’s hard playing mom to a delusional mother who keeps living in the past waiting for her dead son Robert to come home. Will Mary ever get a chance to just be a kid?
Laura Dern plays a convincing drug-induced Annie. She is a mother of three who has become totally unhinged after her oldest child Robert dies in the Iraq war. She pretends that Robert is still alive and will be walking through the door at any moment. Her other two children, Mary and Tony, are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and try to keep the family together. Will Annie finally open her eyes to see she’s missing out on the lives of the two children she has left?
Jae Head plays Mary’s likeable little brother Tony. He’s friendly, he’s helpful, and he’s down right funny. He acts wise beyond his years but he’s lost in his pain too, and escapes from the crazy life by going to the cemetery and talking to his brother’s headstone. Will Tony get his mom back or will he be destined to become another statistic of fractured families devastated by war and death?
I would say Bravetown is a must see! tweet
Well done! A poignant story of a teen who has never known love finally finding it! I liked the strength of the characters. To rope you in, they slowly unravel the intertwined characters, only giving the audience bits and pieces of the story. I liked that you didn’t know how the characters were connected until close to the end when everything came together. I really enjoyed this movie and would say it’s a must see!