Not all reviews are the same, and some of them are truly a challenge to write. Mitzi Peirone’s debut feature film Braid is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a challenge to sit through, let alone reviewing it.
Braid grabbed my attention for two reasons: it premiered last year at Arrow Video FrightFest, a festival where some of the weirdest and critically acclaimed indie movies made their debut over the past few years; furthermore, the movie stars Madeline Brewer, whose career is booming recently and who played the lead in the surprising Netflix hit Cam (2018).
What is Braid about? Well, this is kind of a mean thing to ask, since all you get in this film is a series of apparently nonsensical and discombobulated sequences that seem to constantly be at odds with one another. Logic, continuity, plot, characters… none of those aspects really matter in Braid.
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My review is also available on IMDb – Braid (2018)
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In an interview with PopMatters.com, the director said about her debut film: “Braid’s nature is extremely cerebral and challenging, it’s a constant riddle, a visual poem that’s going in and out of reality. It definitely has a very riddling narrative and that’s supposed to keep the audience engaged and always questioning what’s happening”.
Without necessarily prescribing a meaning to the picture, Peirone claimed Braid conveys the “idea of dreams and reality being very much one, and breaking and subverting the standard structure of filmmaking and storytelling. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a beginning, middle and an end. I think that Braid’s structure is a new takeover of the hero’s journey”.
If anything, those few statements about the film should make clear that Braid is not about a rewarding ending but more so about enjoying the ride while it lasts: in other words, you shouldn’t watch this movie trying to get something out of it. Just watch it for the piece of experimental, visually stunning cinema that it is. If – and this is a big “if” – you’re down for very unconventional and experimental horror movies (a la Eraserhead and Hausu, I’d say).
There are plenty of aspects to be appreciated in Braid: the filmmaker went out of her way to craft something that’s very experimental and unique, she seemed to have a vision when she decided to tell the story deconstructing the conventional three-act structure of movies. Everything that revolves around cinematography and camera work is masterful and meticulously detailed. Brewer’s performance is great. The soundtrack is great, although not something down my alley per se, since it reminds me of that dubstep shit.
Yet, many features leave a lot to be desired, whether that’s intentional or not. The hectic or frenetic editing is really nauseating (and, for me, not in a good way), the three main characters are extremely unlikeable, with one of them being downright annoying. The constant jumping back-and-forth in time can get quite long-winded; the colour palette is all over the place, ranging from being atmospheric and moody to Mandy-like obnoxious.
In the end, I really can’t tell whether I was pleasantly impressed by the movie or I hated it. I’m not even sure whether this film is pure genius, even too clever and cerebral for me to understand, or pretentious garbage that thinks it’ll become a cult classic in the future.
I know this review is probably one of the worst I’ve ever written but, even upon watching the movie twice, I really can’t understand how I feel about it (therefore I won’t grade it), nor I can assess Braid in the way I do with other films: this picture is such a unique cinematic experiment that’s hard to review in a traditional way. You might love it or you’ll hate it, I feel like there’s no grey area here. All I can say is give it a chance, see it for yourself and decide how you feel about Braid.
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