“The Brave One” reboots “Death Wish”

Without Jodie Foster’s convincing performance of a woman who becomes a vigilante — and is conflicted about what she’s become — The Brave One could have been a melodramatic revenge flick no better than Death Wish. Half the audience is likely to miss the point and cheer whenever she shoots her gun; the rest might find it disturbing. I don’t agree with everything that goes down in the end, but the psychological transformation of Foster’s character makes this film worth watching. Terrence Howard is pretty good too.

“A Very Long Engagement” is a painting brought to life

A Very Long Engagement tells the story of a young woman (Audrey Tautou from Amelie playing a slightly less quirky version of the same child-like character) trying to track down her boyfriend who was supposedly killed in the trenches in World War I. Just about all the shots — from the warm, picturesque rural scenes to the cold, brutally realistic battle scenes — are composed like paintings, so much so that the subtitles are distracting at times. That’s one minor criticism. The other is the storyline which does meander a bit (some tighter editing might have improved the pacing). But the performances are great and there’s magic and fantasy and something beautiful in every scene, so who cares? It’s an excellent movie, one of my favourites from 2004.