Brazen Parent Guide
The sexual plotline tries and fails to add a spark to the pedestrian film. It succeeds in making it cringeworthy.
Parent Movie Review
Grace Miller (Alyssa Milano) is a successful author whose career writing murder mysteries has given her insight into the criminal mind (at least in her opinion). When her estranged sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup) asks her to come for a visit to Washington D.C., Grace is anxious to heal the breach. But their reconciliation is brief: shortly after her arrival, Grace finds her sister’s dead body.
Luckily, Grace has just returned from a date with Kathy’s handsome neighbor, Detective Ed Jennings (Sam Page). The good detective gets himself assigned to the case and Grace elbows her way on to the investigative team, determined to catch her sister’s killer. In the process, Grace discovers that, although Kathy taught high school by day, she had a dark secret that dominated her nights…
This movie is adapted from Nora Roberts’ novel, Brazen Virtue. I have not read any of Ms. Roberts’ novels, but I have read some by Mary Higgins Clark, and this film hits all the same beats. If you like the potboiler mysteries sold in airport bookstores, this will be your cup of tea.
Brazen isn’t a particularly impressive whodunnit. The acting is flat, but given the low quality of the screenplay, it’s hard to blame the cast. On the bright side, since the script is untroubled by any convincing character development or believable police procedure, the plot moves briskly along. Potential suspects are introduced – the ruthless ex-husband, a boundary-challenged student, a socially awkward custodian, a tech employee with access to personal data – and subjected to the most cursory investigation. If you’ve read enough of these books, you will have little trouble identifying the clues and red herrings scattered through the story.
For many viewers, the deluge of negative content in the film will overshadow any of the movie’s storytelling flaws. This production is awash in negative material, particularly frequent scenes of women acting out their clients’ dominatrix fantasies online. (This isn’t a spoiler: it’s in the trailer.) Viewers are often subjected to scenes of women dressed in provocative outfits who are snapping whips, posing seductively, and snarling into the camera. In addition, an unmarried couple are seen kissing passionately and removing each other’s clothing; although there is no explicit nudity, sex is implied. Violence is also plentiful with multiple scenes of women being pursued, attacked, and strangled. Some of the murders are seen more than once in flashback or on video clips. This is not one of those mysteries that slides quickly over the murder to focus in on the hunt for the killer.
Clearly, Brazen isn’t a suitable choice for teen viewers. I’m pretty sure parents don’t want their high school students to spend an hour and a half immersed in bondage and murder. Frankly, I’m not sure how many adults are willing to sit through cringe-y content and an eye-rolling plot for a totally pedestrian film. There are so many better, whip-free options for anyone who wants a chance to figure out whodunnit.Directed by Monika Mitchell. Starring Alyssa Milano, Sam Page, Malachi Weir. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release January 13, 2022. Updated January 13, 2022
Rating & Content Info
Why is Brazen rated TV-14? Brazen is rated TV-14 by the MPAA for fear, language violence, sex
Violence: During an armed robbery, a man points a gun at people and there is a physical fight. A masked person breaks into several homes. A dead body is seen with bruises on the throat. Strangulation is discussed. Women are shown being pursued, attacked, and killed. A woman punches a man in the face. A video clip of a woman’s murder is shown. A man attacks a woman who defends herself with a knife.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes involving sexually provocative images in a domination context. Scantily clad, masked women yell, wield whips, and act seductively for online customers. A man and woman kiss. Unfaithfulness is briefly discussed. A woman’s black bra can be seen through a white blouse. Video screens show scantily clad people in sexually provocative positions. An unmarried couple kiss passionately and undress each other; sex is implied but not seen.
Profanity: The movie features a handful of terms of deity and a scatological curse.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There’s a mention of a person being addicted to pills. Alcohol is consumed in a social setting.
Page last updated January 13, 2022
Brazen Parents' Guide
Why does Grace think she can help to find her sister’s killer? Do you think allowing her to participate in the investigation was wise? Why would this not happen in real world situations?
Related home video titles:
For classic murder mystery fun, try Murder on the Orient Express, adapted from Agatha Christie’s famous novel. Less family friendly, but still in the tradition of classic murder mysteries, Knives Out, features Daniel Craig as a detective. Also following the classic formula, Gosford Park takes a Downton-Abbey-type approach to homicide.
Family audiences looking for a mystery to solve will enjoy Enola Holmes, a story based on the non-canonical sister of Sherlock Holmes. (The great detective himself is the hero of Sherlock Holmes, where he is played by Robert Downey Jr.)