Even if Halle Berry was not the director and star of “Bruised”, it’s my kind of movie. Raw, grimey, grungy, loquacious cinéma-vérité is my thing beyond epic romances or comedies any day or night. All that being said, I am still shocked what I saw featured Halle Berry.
Some friends and I have a joke about the consummate diva, my fellow Aries sister, Mariah Carey and her appearance in “Precious”, the Academy Award-winning film based on the novel PUSH. She appears as the social worker who emboldens the title character Precious to get herself and her children away from her abusive mother. Well, Mariah looks like any number of teachers or nonprofit workers I’ve been myself. There’s no time or point to get glam. The few Dolly Partonesque staff members who show up in full heels, hair and makeup regalia are shamed in these environments.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when “Precious’s” director Lee Daniels tore Mariah out of hair and makeup to do her scene with Precious’s mother, the moment that probably won Monique the Oscar for playing her. No pink gowns and diamonds. No lashes or blush. Mariah looks exactly like a fed-up New York City social worker would. So as Mariah played our average sister in the next cubicle who has to whisper-yell to her kids and apologize for what she knows you heard, the joke became “She got Lee Daneiled.”
That is what we say any time another actress has to transform like Charlize Theron in “Monster” just to get herself off the #MeToo victim and Insta butt shots circuits into serious dramatic work.
Well, no one can blame Lee for this one. That was the other Halle movie. In this one, she did it to herself and she won November in the process.
Way to make everybody feel bad when the #1 trending movie over the gluttonous, lazy Thanksgiving Weekend shows us a 50something sister doing crossfit. Vanity and caution were all thrown to the wind.
In “Bruised”, Berry makes her unusual entrance above a toilet bowl she has to scrub for her wealthy cleaning service clients. At this point, she is still recognizable as herself although she is in character as Jackie Justice, a one-time mixed martial arts celebrity. The money and fame didn’t last. I know the story. She is many years, a long lost son’s return and a sexy but horrible boyfriend/manager later. Somehow, her day at the office spirals into humiliation and shaming, Jackie’s necessary TKO on the rich couple’s spoiled son entitled to make fun of her. She quits, with a dead fighting career in the rearview and nothing else lined up. A second fighting wind becomes her only choice to survive.
At this point, what I had thought was going to be a mix of that heavently, utopic Wonder and Catwoman feminist empowerment became the real deal. Jackie Justice slides into homelessness as a single mother, falls in love with her female coach and heals in the unlikeliest of places: the brutal MMA subculture and nearly clandestine fights. These matches rival illegal dog fights in violence and savage crowds. It does not look like a world I would enjoy, however, the fearless and damaged souls who endure the multilayered traumas of practice and competition live for the sport.
The transformation in Berry’s appearance is quite gradual but not nuanced, actually creepy in its totality. The ugly chaos of the callous final battle descended to horror film aesthetics. A trip! I was unprepared in some places and too young for others. As the director, Halle Lee Danieled herself on this one. She cast professional MMA stars to work with. I’m sure that left little choice.
I recommend you see for yourself or share your thoughts. The film’s all-female hip-hop soundtrack made for an interesting atmosphere as a project Berry Executive Produced with Cardi.