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There’s just enough character development in BRUISER to make the story interesting. The cinematography, writing and acting are good, but the movie’s other production values are just middling. Also, the ending doesn’t resolve the conflicts and problems the story creates. This leaves viewers hanging. Finally, BRUISER’s positive Christian, moral content is marred by many “f” words. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
BRUISER is a family drama for mature viewers on Hulu about the coming of age of a 14-year-old black teenager named Darious (Jalyn Hall), his family dynamics, and his new relationship to a mysterious drifter named Porter (Trevante Rhodes).
Coming home for vacation from his expensive preparatory school in the city, the teenager finds himself without friends. Also, his strict father, Malcolm, a car salesman, is overly busy and aloof, and his Christian mother, Monica, is loving but somewhat suffocating. When Darious finds out Porter is actually his biological father, who abandoned the family, Darious decides to get to know him anyway. However, this decision causes a conflict between the two men. Has Darious, in seeking solace from someone “cool” rather than someone of good character, made a mistake he will come to regret?
There’s just enough development of the major characters to make BRUISER interesting. Darious’ mom is the best drawn character. However, the movie’s ending doesn’t resolve the conflicts and problems the story raises. This is extremely frustrating to the viewer and makes the movie feel incomplete, as if it’s Part 1 of a series. The movie’s cinematography, writing and acting are good, but the movie’s other production values are just middling. BRUISER is also hampered by far too much foul language, ostensibly written into the script. In the final analysis, the story just leaves its audience hanging.
That said, the movie’s overall worldview surprisingly seems to be one of biblical morality, some Christian imagery, though many of the characters don’t always hew to the dictates of this philosophical framework.
Darious’ mom, Monica, is a woman of faith. For example, a crucifix hangs in her car, and she attends church faithfully. Also, in the difficult situation regarding the biological father, she has a fairly biblical perspective. She tells Darious, “Let’s just be good to Porter, and the Lord will be good to us.” In addition, Darious’ relationships with his mother, stepfather and father are fairly mature. They discuss issues together and give as much emotional support and parental guidance as possible. However, it’s clear that the wayward father had a rough upbringing and it sometimes shows in how he interacts with his son. Also, Darious often disrespects his mother and stepfather verbally and physically. Though the story makes it clear the boy is confused, this fact doesn’t result in the story condoning his bad behavior. Furthermore, Porter, despite his very understandable desire to see Darious, clearly doesn’t have the boy’s best interests at heart. He encourages Darious to disobey his other parents, gets him into trouble, and eventually goes even further than these already troubling issues. As Porter says of himself, “That’s just my life philosophy. Everybody’s got one.” That may be true, but his attitude and viewpoint have some reckless qualities that lead to the big crisis in the movie’s third act.
Finally, BRUISER is so peppered with strong foul language that it becomes distracting. Because of this, and the ending’s lack of any discernible resolution, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
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