Saturday, December 22, 2012

Capsule Film Reviews: Battle of the Brave

Je me souviens just might almost be the watchword for Battle of the Brave (Jean Beaudin, 2004), the English language version of the French Canadian film Nouvelle-France. What this epic film asks us to remember is less memories of those nasty and brutish British conquerors, soon to be American schemers, Roman Catholic complicity with Nouvelle France's red coated conquerors, or even the perversions of some of the French elite before Nouvelle France's British conquest though it is hard not to see Nouvelle-France and its English language version as the product in some way, shape, or form of French Canadian nationalism. What Battle of the Brave asks its viewers to remember is a daughters tale of her peasant mother's (Noemie Godin-Vigneau) love for a man she is never able to have (David La Haye) and of her devotion to the daughter who tells Battle of the Brave's tale and for whom she sacrificed her life (Juliette Gosselin).

Battle of the Brave, one of the most expensive films ever made in Canada at a cost of around $C30 million Canadian dollars, may be beautifully filmed, have exquisite sets and costumes, and may be wonderfully scored but I didn't find its tale of romance, motherly love, and the horror of popular superstitions or its earthy peasants and foppish and cynical elites all that interesting or compelling and I really didn't care about any of its characters in the end. I didn't, however, find it as bad as some of its online critics who call it the worst film they have ever seen. I have seen far worse films during my cinephilic life. On the Maltin meter I would have to give Battle of the Brave two and a half stars. But hey, it was nice to see someone attempt a traditional Hollywood adult costume epic in these days of Hollywood kiddie korn.

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