By: Amanda Guarragi
In Halle Berry’s directorial feature debut Bruised she uses a female lens to tell the story of a disgraced MMA fighter, Jackie Justice (Halle Berry). Justice finds redemption in the cage, and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up, as an infant, unexpectedly re enters her life. Berry and writer, Michelle Rosenfarb assembled a fresh, unique take on women in this industry that really hasn’t been explored on screen before. Even though it did falter at times, it is still an impressive debut for Berry.
The film does go through the motions of a typical sports film, especially those centered on boxing, but the female centric story adds another layer to it. It is the journey that Jackie Justice goes on in this film as a fighter, as a woman, and lastly as a mother. We see that Justice is completely rundown because of her manager, who is a drunkard, and doesn’t treat her properly at all. She has this rage inside her, which she used to express in the ring, follow her after she quit. She has always needed an outlet and unfortunately, alcohol filled that void.
While watching this film, I was trying to understand why the movie felt a bit weak. It wasn’t because of Berry’s direction, it seemed like she was really taking risks and trying to make viewers understand her Justice’s struggle through her visuals. Instead, it was Rosenfarb’s script that didn’t work for what Berry was attempting to do with this. It felt like two clashing ideas that never fully developed into something meaningful. Visually it was interesting and definitely engaging because of the sport, but the script itself felt disjointed by incorporating too much into the story.
Bruised is a strong directorial debut from Berry. She also delivers a very emotional performance as Jackie Justice. Her character goes through so much and it was nice to see that the connection with her son is what grounds her. We see many sides to Justice and that just shows how talented Halle Berry is. Not only did Berry have a clear vision for the film she wanted to make, she also assembled an all female soundtrack with some of the best in the industry today. If it weren’t for this film and her drive, we wouldn’t have a female-led boxing film and that is what makes this a good watch.