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EIFF 2012 Film Review: Brave

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Similarly, the world itself is far more rooted in reality than you’d expect. Having banded together years previous to repel Viking invaders, the Scottish kingdom is now plagued by mistrust and animosity between the clans. Merida’s planned marriage is not the machinations of an evil Queen set on cementing her power, but a skilled diplomat’s attempt to maintain a fragile peace. Merida may follow her heart and marry for love, but, as her mother tries to tell her, she might start a war in the process. It’s this grounded-ness, painting shades of grey in both Elinor and Merida’s views and relationship, that makes Brave so refreshing and the interplay of mother and daughter so relevant.

There are issues, though. Pixar’s scripts have long been known for their sharp dialogue and cross-generational appeal, but, aside from few barbed putdowns, Brave largely resorts to physical comedy. Although often capable of raising a chuckle – Elinor’s attempt to escape the castle in her new, less graceful form is particularly rib-tickling – there’s a near-constant feeling that Pixar are peddling to younger members of the audience than usual. As far from Wall-E’s inspired Keaton-esque physical comedy as possible, and featuring considerably less quotable dialogue than you’d expect, there’s the nagging suspicion that original director Brenda Chapman’s ‘creative disagreement’ replacement by Mark Andrews in 2010 might have had more of an effect on Brave than Pixar will admit.

Despite the less mature humour on show, there’s still a Toy Story 3-esque vein of darkness running through Brave, personified in the shaggy form of its villain, the legendary black bear Mor’du – a man-eater who chomped down Fergus’ leg years previous and may have more in common with Merida than it first appears. With one eye glassed and lifeless, the other a fiery pit, shards of the weapons that failed to kill him jutting from his back, his face a misshapen horror of scars and half-healed broken bones, he’s a nightmarish creation that, along with Merida, highlights Pixar’s skill at crafting unforgettable characters.

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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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