Bruised (2020)

Director: Halle Berry
Writer: Michelle Rosenfarb
Cast: Halle Berry, Sheila Atim, Adan Canto, Adriane Lenox, Danny Boyd Jr., Stephen McKinley Henderson, Shamier Anderson
Seen on: 18.6.2022

Jackie (Halle Berry) used to be a MMA fighter, but after a catastrophic loss, she has withdrawn, drinks too much and her life is generally in shambles. That’s when her mother (Adriane Lenox) suddenly shows up with Jackie’s son Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.). Manny had been living with his father, but he just passed away. Traumatized, Manny doesn’t talk anymore. Jackie is overwhelmed, but Manny’s appearance may just be the start for her to get back on her feet – and back into the ring. She starts training with Buddhakan (Sheila Atim) and slowly, slowly she and Manny become closer.

Bruised is not exactly great, I have to say. There are interesting moments here, but they get drowned out by a film that seems more interested in the misery and darkness than the rising above it, or fighting against it.

The film poster showing Jackie (Halle Berry) clenching her teeth covered by a mouth guard, sweaty and with a raised fist.

Bruised is a rather typical sports film: the underdog fighting their way back to the top, out of the hardest circumstances. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that nobody in the film was actually all that interested in the sport. It seemed, they chose boxing more out of a desire to show the beautiful Halle Berry bruised and beaten, wracked by alcohol and general misery.

As the film generally seems more interested in the fucked up parts of Jackie’s life than in the way she fights her way up from rock bottom. Which is a problem because that’s the story it is actually telling.

Jackie (Hally Berry), her face bruised, in the ring with another fighter.

But then again, the film throws so much at Jackie and at the story – from abuse to addiction to traumatized children to a queer love affair to rage issues to an addicted mother – that it seems unsurprising that it doesn’t know what story it is telling, and buries it under pretty much everything that could go wrong in somebody’s life.

The highlight of the film for me was Atim’s Buddhakan. She easily delivers the best performance in the film, despite a character who is as muddled as the rest of the film.

Ultimately, the film just doesn’t come together, and maybe Berry should have decided between playing the lead or directing. Doing both just didn’t work.

Jackie (Halle Berry) sittting on the bed with her son Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.).

Summarizing: too much and too little at the same time.

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