I wish I were at the theater now. Erik Kain and Alyssa Rosenberg both give the Pixar fairy tale a thumbs up. Rosenberg:
Brave plants a flag in much-derided territory and makes something visually gorgeous and emotionally rich out of the familiar rhythms of fairy tales. And while the wars between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons may be fought on different ground, Brave should stand as a reminder that those battles can be equally lacerating, and equally resonant, no matter the gender of the participants.
Brave is just as relentless in its exploration of grown-up themes as any of its predecessors, only this time – for the first time – the protagonist is a girl, and the central conflict revolves not merely around generational or societal frictions, but specifically around gender roles and the tension between our duty to ourselves as individuals and to society writ large.
The hard choices and sacrifices we make for our loved ones and neighbors are placed uncompromisingly in the laps of princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her mother, queen Elinor (Emma Thompson.) Pride and stubbornness are more the villains of this story than any witch or demon bear. And the easy solutions in so many other films about strong-willed princesses simply don’t exist. No magic to save the little mermaid; no spell to be broken and make the beast man again; no dashing prince or magic lamp to make everything alright in the end.
At least I can listen to Patrick Doyle’s score in the meantime.