6.3/10
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76 user 28 critic

The Brave (1997)

A down-on-his-luck American Indian recently released from jail is offered the chance to "star" as the victim of a snuff film, the resulting pay of which could greatly help his poverty stricken family.

Director:

Johnny Depp

Writers:

Gregory McDonald (novel), Paul McCudden (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
3 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Depp ... Raphael
Marlon Brando ... McCarthy
Marshall Bell ... Larry
Elpidia Carrillo ... Rita
Frederic Forrest ... Lou Sr.
Clarence Williams III ... Father Stratton
Max Perlich ... Lou Jr.
Luis Guzmán ... Luis
Cody Lightning ... Frankie
Nicole Mancera Nicole Mancera ... Marta
Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman ... Papa
Pepe Serna ... Alessandro
Lupe Ontiveros ... Maria
Alexis Cruz ... Heyman
Chuck E. Weiss Chuck E. Weiss ... Whizzy
Edit

Storyline

An unemployed alcoholic Native American Indian lives on a trailer park with his wife and two children. Convinced that he has nothing to offer this world, he agrees to be tortured to death by a gang of rednecks in return for $50,000. Written by Duncan Shine <shine@telecall.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 July 1997 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

O Bravo See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (DeLuxe Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Aziz Ghazal, manager of USC film school's equipment room, optioned the novel in 1992 and got the producers to convince Touchstone to let him make his directorial debut with the film. However, before production began, Ghazal bludgeoned his wife and 13-year-old daughter to death, and went missing in late 1993. Touchstone backed out. A month later, Ghazal's body was discovered by hikers in a secluded area south of Mt. San Jacinto in Riverside County. It was determined he had committed suicide, shooting himself with a .380 caliber pistol. A note was found inside his abandoned car that read "You can never know the pain you caused me" as well as a copy of The Brave. The producers later went to Depp, who liked the concept but not the script, which he rewrote with his brother and made his own directorial debut with it. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

McCarthy: The final measure of bravery is to stand up to death.
See more »

Connections

References The Lone Ranger (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

El Alhualulco
(Traditional Arranged by Trio de Mandinga)
Performed by Trio de Mandinga
Courtesy of Discos Corason, Mexico
By Arrangement with Rounder Records and Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Depp's one foray as writer/director/actor has not, understandably, been repeated. A movie that strives for depth and profundity but fails.
27 July 2005 | by ivan-166See all my reviews

This is really a very weak movie. The script is poor, the music sounds like a contribution from a mate of Johnny's and the direction is weak. Depp is really very unconvincing playing a Native American who has lived a hard, down-and-out life of poverty and failure (too well-spoken for a start) and his acting looks especially thin in the brief scene with Marlon Brando who seems to remind us what real acting is, although Brando's contribution (along with Marshall Bell's) is not enough to save this film. The only compelling scenes are the ones with Bell and Brando with the rest appearing as weak filler which fails to properly establish mood, depth or content or hold the attention.

The main faults are with Depp's acting (very shallow, altogether unconvincing and invoking little sympathy from this viewer), the characterization, the realization of the story and the direction. Perhaps most crucially, the story itself reaches for profundity but is pretty contemptible - if Raphael really loved his children he wouldn't be throwing away his life for some short-term bucks, thereby robbing them of the lifelong love and support of their father and increasing the likelihood of permanent disadvantage and psychological damage. The film does not explore this side of the situation and seems to infer some sort of deeper meaning and selflessness in his act (i.e., he is the "brave one", as well as the Native American "Brave" - the puerile turgidity of this pun suggests the facile nature of the film).

The plot also toys with ideas that are insufficiently explored or developed, tacked on, pointless or implausible: for example, the last-minute conversion to Native American spiritualism, which seems to go nowhere, mean nothing and develop nothing; there is the lunacy of giving up his life so his children can have the money to get out of the hole they're in and then spending much of it on a trashy fun park and a big party (perhaps intended to demonstrate the protagonist's generosity and good-heartedness but in a way that robs his gesture of value and meaning); there is the question of how the priest is supposed to ensure Raphael's family get the money from such vicious types as the film depicts; and the priest's sudden change from fury at the protagonist's fatal decision to a sort of stymied resignation and his ultimate failure to try and stop him on the day, which really makes little sense in light of his character and previous actions.

There is certainly social comment here but it's pretty ham-fisted. The Native Americans live in a garbage dump (not so subtle symbolism) and the film generally suggests the corner that the poor (especially poor non-whites) are backed into and the lack of regard for their lives by those with money and power. However, this too seems pretty thin, obvious and half-baked (try watching a Ken Loach or Mike Leigh film Johnny). Furthermore, by making two such louche and mysterious characters the villains in this social commentary, Depp does not point the finger of culpability in a very suggestive direction. In the final wash-up, it just doesn't explore the choice he makes with any real depth or profundity.


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