I ‘ve said numerous times over the decades that Halle Berry is a beast (in the best sense of the word) and one of the most underrated talents in Hollywood. Now, the world knows what I have been touting for years. Jackie Justice (Berry) is a former up-and-coming UFC star whose 10-0 run ended when she literally ran out in the middle of a fight. Four years later Jackie has left her career behind and slowly spiraling toward rock bottom. While cohabiting with boyfriend Desi (Adan Canto) she becomes out of shape, her drinking is at an all time high and continuous bickering with her toxic Mom Angel (Adriane Lenox) all come to a head when she becomes weary of folks pulling up the viral video of that pivotal moment so many have deemed as cowardly. Even Jackie realizes it’s time for change.
Bruised is a deep little film on multiple levels. Jackie Justice is a single Mom who has to unlearn toxic behavior from her mother Angel, her man Desi, find the courage to get back in the ring and love a child who is just as emotionally traumatized as she is. Can you say baggage? All of these components, not to mention the intense and rigorous training Berry had to endure prepping for the film make Bruised an interesting watch.
This subject matter would be a lot for most artists, but Halle Berry is not just any artist. She is an Academy Award winning actress, who knows better than anyone how to approach and convey heart behind the grime and grit of complex characters on screen. An intense method actor, this wouldn’t be the first time Berry went full throttle for a role. For her screen debut as cracked out Vivian in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” she skipped bathing for days and for her Oscar winning role of Letitia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball,” she went to the depths of emotional hell as a grieving mother. For Bruised, she trained for two and half years in order to look like an authentic fighter.
In addition to Berry’s performance, Adriane Lenox, Adam Canto, Shamier Anderson and young Danny Boyd, Jr. all compliment her performance with solid, heartfelt, gritty characters that in their own way piss you off, break your heart and make you cheer. However, Boyd provides a performance that wrenches you to the core. As Manny, he doesn’t need speech to communicate his conscience which is seen through his very large and beautiful expressive eyes.
At the end of the day, Bruised takes it’s time with a plot devised through Michelle Rosenfarb’s screenplay. But, I applaud these women for spotlighting this sport, this story and giving Halle Berry a chance for a K.O. with her directorial debut. I once heard Berry say, “…you can’t win big if you don’t risk big.” You did THAT Halle Berry!!!It may be her first, but it most certainly will not be her last behind the lens. I, for one, can’t wait to see what lies next.