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EIFF 2012 Film Review: Brave

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While her mother seeks to sculpt her into a perfect lady with endless etiquette and crochet lessons, Merida is happier exploring the wilds on her hulking Clydesdale, Angus, or puncturing targets with archery skills that would leave a certain Miss Everdeen envious. Indeed, with a wildness and independence symbolised by her soon-to-be iconic shock of flaming red curls, Merida is the antithesis of the traditionally passive Disney princess.

And it’s this dichotomy of goals and personalities between mother and daughter that grants Brave its key emotional moments and the main drive of the plot. After a particularly vicious argument over Merida’s impending and unwanted matrimony, the princess enlists the aid of a witch/woodworker (a show-stealing turn from Julie Walters) and a magical cake that promises to ‘make the Queen change.’ Of course, as is the way of these things, the plan doesn’t quite work out as intended, and Merida and her now considerably less lady-like mother are forced to embark on a quest to break the spell.

So far, so fairytale, you might think, but Brave is more interested in personal and emotional journeys than physical ones. Merida’s quest might ostensibly be to try and lift the curse she’s unwittingly placed on her mother, but she’s fighting more than just the effects of a careless witch’s concoction – she’s battling against preconceptions of gender and the chains of tradition; for the right to choose her own path in both life and love. Despite the magic, prophecies and setting, Brave presents a tale that’s distinctly more folk than fairy.

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Directed by: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

Country: US

Year: 2012

Running Time: 100 mins

Certificate: PG

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