Halle Berry’s New Movie, ‘Bruised,’ Lets Her Assert Control

Halle Berry’s New Movie, ‘Bruised,’ Lets Her Assert Control

Halle Berry has struggled throughout her life in one form or the other. Be it for iconic film roles, on behalf of victims of domestic violence, or against the notion that her physical beauty has saved her from struggle, she has always seen herself as an underdog. And now, in his first film as a director, he has cast himself as one too.

In “Bruised” (premiering on November 17 before heading to Netflix a week later), Berry starred as Jackie Justice, a disgraced mixed martial arts fighter desperate to make a comeback. This is her most physically demanding role: now 55, she had to train for four to six hours a day to learn boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, and Jujitsu, as well as her use in “Catwoman”. Had to brush up on capoeira skills.

Then, she spent the rest of the day in director mode: scouring locations in Newark, developing a script that initially focused on a 20-something Irish Catholic white woman, blocking out elaborate fight scenes, and creating her own intergenerational cast of actors. Collaborated with artists. This combination alone is a feat for any first-time filmmaker.

Still, with Justice, Berry plays one of its most complex characters: in addition to being a former MMA champion, Jackie is a middle-aged black mother who is the father of her 6-year-old son, Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.). Struggling to take care. , after leaving him as an infant.

“I understood who this character of Jackie Justice was and where he came from,” Berry said over a video call in the backyard of his Los Angeles home. And after waiting six months for Blake Lively (who first passed in the part) to be judged—she eventually denounced—Berry aggressively pursued the role.

“I liked it because fighting is something I know a lot about, both on a personal level and on a career level. I understand what fighting is and not being heard,” Berry said. I understand the trauma that one wants to fight, needs to fight, has to fight.”

Not only did he win that round, but Netflix also seemed to be in his corner, paying $20 million for the film, according to trade-paper reports.

As she explained, “I understand the anger, resentment, fear, and despair that comes with being marginalized as a black woman and all that. If I could put all that into this film, I would be well Knowing that, I knew I could create a character that would not only be real, but would also resonate with women from different castes.”

It is true that Jackie’s mere presence on screen offers a counterpoint to the male-dominated heroism of most boxing films. But, the film’s emphasis on motherhood also gave Berry an opportunity to make another statement in Hollywood: Jackie’s redemption arc was actively involved in the fates of Berry’s more iconic characters as well as the fates of her more recent, yet lesser-known films. redefines.

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Substance Abusing Mother: “Losing Isaiah.” Grieving Mother: “Monster Ball.” To save the mysteriously pregnant-astronaut-fighting-his-new-hybrid-species-child mother: the television series “Extant.” Alert-after-his baby kidnapped mother from waitress: “Abducted.” Mother Raising Eight-Black-Foster-Kids During the Los-Angels-Riots: “King.” And these are the ones I can remember.

The special thing about Jackie is that he is a real fighter. And for Berry, this fact, when tied to her character’s maternal drive, made the part more subtle and novel for her. The actress started our conversation worried about sending her two kids to school and now explained that Jackie “does the unthinkable, which leaves her child on paper for no real reason, but emotionally, she Can’t live and can’t be a mother.”

That act followed Ring to Justice, even as he lost a title fight when asked to leave the fighting cage. As Berry explained, Jackie was so intimidated that “the fear and guilt came straight to her in her next fight, and she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t face it. She’s no longer the kind of warrior she once was.” Was.”

To prepare for the role, Berry not only watched the fight (she’s a lifelong boxing fan), but also asked female MMA fighters why they chose the sport. “Now that’s not true across the board, but my research has taught me that men and women often fight for very different reasons,” Berry said. “Many times men fight as a career to take care of their family, to be the breadwinner, to get out of poverty. And women often fight to get their voices back.”

He continued, “Since so many of them have been abused in some way or another in their early years, fighting became the only way for them to regain their sense of self, and power, and security in the world. “

When I asked Berry if her decision to direct was part of her own journey to control how she appeared on screen rather than being subject to the whims of an industry, until recently so often Middle-aged women, much less black women, were cast for supporting roles. , she stopped. I asked if she needed a moment to reflect on the ups and downs of a career that saw her become the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress (2011’s “Monster’s Ball”) and a Razzie for Worst Actress. (includes “Catwoman” in 2004).

“We’re all spoon-fed versions of us, but not of ourselves,” Berry said. “What I’m talking about is a sense of power. I feel powerful just because I get to do it and put my voice in the world in some way, and as a black woman My senses are out.”

Two scenes, in particular, stood out, in which Berry was not only referencing his previous films, but also clearly revising the traditional male gaze. Early on, an argument between Jackie and her partner and manager, Desi (Aidan Canto), leads to sex, and their intensity and roughness reminded me of the moment in “Monster Ball” when her character, Leticia. Musgrove and Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) engage in a similarly desperate and violent form of relationship. However, in “Bruised”, that scene isn’t nearly as climax, but is shortened and interrupted by the larger story line of Jackie’s son’s return.

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Later, we learn that the encounter between Jackie and Desi was also in contrast to the more loving exchange between Jackie and her new trainer, Bobby “Buddhakan” Beroah (Sheela Atim). Not only does Berry direct the camera to draw closer, and stay put on women caressing each other’s bodies, but the passion is both truly and truly healing.

To embody Jackie’s metamorphosis, Berry completely transformed herself. Her eyes are constantly swollen, her lips are bleeding, and she wears baggy pants and braids without any glamour.

When I told Berry that his character’s appearance reminded me of Brad Pitt’s deformity at the end of “Fight Club,” he pushed back, and then I realized that from preconceived notions about him and his career. My eyes may also be distorted. In other words, she wanted to play Jackie because she saw parts of herself in her story — past and present — and in her struggle for more.

“This is another battle I fought for the rest of my life. It is because I look in a certain way that I am saved from any hardship. I have suffered loss and pain and a lot of hurt in my life. I’ve had abuse in my life,” she recalled, among other things, about domestic violence in relationships she’s talked about in the past. “I get really frustrated when people think it’s because I’m a certain way. I see I haven’t experienced any of those real life experiences because I absolutely have.”

She further reflected, “It hasn’t spared me a single heartbreak or heartache or a frightened or tearful moment, trust me.”

Atim said that he believed “Halle’s experience as an actor was instrumental in fueling his instincts as a director.” But what also matters in the end, Atim said, is that “she understands storytelling very well.”

The result is a portrait of black femininity that is both detailed and rich for Jackie and ultimately for Berry’s audience as well. “We’ve never seen an African American woman in a movie like this,” Berry said. “I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m the salt of the earth, a world I know and an intrinsic part of who I am.”

In other words, a movie worth fighting for. “If I’m going to tell a story, I’m going to make it from the point of view that I know,” she said. “I thought it was a really good way for me to start.”

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