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  • Wow. I just watched The Brave. Before I saw it, I knew that it was the only film which Johnny Depp has directed. After seeing it, I can add 'unfortunately' to the beginning of the fact. In every film that he's been in, nevermind the quality of the film itself, Johnny Depp has always given a wonderful performance. As a director, he's no different. The Brave is truly outstanding. How to describe the film? It's impossibly really. All I can say Every actor is great. It's hard to get good child actors, but here it had been done. Johnny Depp is fantastic as usual, the wife is brilliant too. I don't think that there is a single performance that I would criticise. With the film, I did something that I've never done before - I didn't move for the last 10 or 20 minutes, and when it was over, I just sat through the credits completely in shock, crying. I even stayed in front of the DVD menu for a while afterwards, completely still. How anyone can call this film 'boring' is beyond me. Heartbreaking, uncomfortable, yes, but it is far from boring. Everyone should watch The Brave if they have the chance, but don't expect to go away smiling.
  • makent0127 October 2003
    I expected this movie to be a real "stinker" based on comments I had seen. But I was pleasantly surprised to see how good a movie it is. It is a powerful story about desperate people and should have received more attention and respect than it did. The movie could use some work in places, but it deserves to be released.
  • bijindesu229 October 2003
    I just saw this movie on DVD. As soon as I finished watching, I felt I had to see it again.

    The thought of being killed for money may sound bizarre, but in this movie, it's very realistic.

    The movie caught the mindset of a man about to be sacrified very well and you could feel the intensity. It neither condemned nor aprove his decision. But his actions all made sense, so we sympathize but not pity him.

    Johnny Depp played the role so well, he was able to convince us that he was just doing his best to help his beloved family.
  • I had read an article in a waiting room Entertainment Weekly while getting a punctured tire repaired, an article about unreleased (or little-released) films and albums by big-name directors and artists. An internet search indicates this was "Buried Treasure" by Tim Carvell in issue # 795, December 3, 2004. One of them was this film, unreleased in the US, but available on DVD in the UK. Happily I own a region-free player that does PAL-NTSC conversion (I wish they would abolish regional encoding!), and the DVD on the UK Amazon site was relatively cheap, so I ordered it.

    I'm surprised to see that the author of the novel this film was adapted from was the author of the Fletch series! This is entirely different.

    Johnny Depp plays a native American living with his wife, son, and daughter in a small trailer in a shantytown next to a garbage dump in the desert. Days seem to be spent mostly sleeping. He goes to town to apply for a job a man in a bar told him about. He goes to a pretty shady place, and we learn what the job is (reading the DVD box would tell you the same thing): to be tortured and killed (presumably on film) for $50,000. He's given some money up front (at least a couple thousand, not sure how much), and a week before he has to come back to do the job. Evidently in the book he's only offered $30,000 and given $200 up front!

    He goes back home, and doesn't do much initially, but then tries bonding more with his family, who he'd grown apart from while drinking. He spends the money on things that delight his kids, but seem pretty frivolous. His wife is worried he's robbed a store or done something else that will get him put in jail again. He hopes the money will help his family move up in life, and it comes at an opportune time, since the shantytown is due to be demolished.

    It's a bit longer than I think it need be, about two hours. However, it is well directed. I think Johnny Depp did a good job with it.

    Marlon Brando's role is pretty small. He'd worked with Depp before in Don Juan DeMarco (1995), quite a different movie than this one! Iggy Pop, who worked on the soundtrack has a short cameo as a man at a fiesta eating a giant drumstick.
  • At the first glance one could believe that "The Brave" is an action movie: a desperate man enters in the wrong place and he has to run away in order to keep himself alive. For those who love the adventures and action movies this one could be the prefect beginning for another one. Instead, the film moves into the philosophical reflection of meaning of life and death. The story is about love and struggling against fatality.

    Depp gives us a beautiful movie that shows an excellent director: the photography is wonderful, the first sequence is hallucinant; the only regret is that it remembers Jarmush's "Dead Man".
  • kimclark122 November 2005
    Once again Johnny Depp proves to us what a great talent he is, not only with his acting, but directing as well. His long time career and affiliation with such talented directors shows.

    This movie had me mesmerized. It's beginning so quiet and the outcome leaving me in tears. The photography was beautiful leaving me feel that although the people were extremely poor, they had what they needed because they had each other. The sacrifice that Rafael makes is beyond love, beyond money.

    It struck me while watching the scene between Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp that Johnny is the young Brando. The scene so intense the two actors on the same level. Wow.

    Johnny Depp has once again outdone himself and I will look forward to whatever else he has to offer us whether it be acting or directing. This is a must see for any Depp fan and more to the point, any movie fan.
  • epevae7 October 2002
    Warning: Spoilers
    The plot itself is so bizarre that it might well be real. RafaelĀ“s love for his family is greater than his fear of dying.There is hardly a more difficult decision to make.Despite his clearly showing conflict,he seems to have decided to do it from the start. Despite the doubts he is facing from his wife due to his previous imprisonment, he follows it through and takes care of everything before he follows the trail to his doom. A true brave in a true drama with a very sensitive ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I thought this was an excellent movie! Johnny Depp plays an indian who has a wife and two children living in poverty. The only way he sees out for his family is to sell himself to Marlon Brando so he can see what a painful death looks like. So for $50,000, Rafael (Depp) agrees to be Brando's guinea pig. In his last week with his family, Rafael learns to live again and love his family. At the end of the week, he has to go back to this warehouse, where he knows he will be killed. The most interesting segment of the movie is the meeting between Rafael and the priest who he asks help from in making sure his family gets the money after he's gone. It becomes a moral dilemma for the priest and yet in the end, the priest comes through for Rafael. This is a movie not to be watched without tissues!
  • artwk4 August 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Given that "The Brave" was based on a novel with a fascinating but disturbing concept, it could and should have been an excellent movie. Depp's direction is competent, the acting overall is good, but the film is overlong and poorly structured. The opening sequences give no hint whatever of what is to follow, and even the Brando character's payment of $50,000 in cash tells the viewer little. Is Depp supposed to come back in a week and carry out a contract killing? Who knows? Who cares? The closure was well handled, and the film would have been weakened if it had gone on to show the main character's suffering and death. But the film would have benefited from a brief glimpse at the very start, or at least an intimation, of what would happen at the end. It's not surprising that many viewers found the film boring. The pace is desperately slow, and much of the film has one itching to press the fast-forward button.
  • Depp was superb as the director and the star. Some find the movie to be to slow and/or to long. Not so unless, a person is into car chases, kick boxing and explicit sex. Please be aware this movie had the most sensual scene between a man and his wife I have ever seen and I doubt anyone will ever top it.

    Anyone who does not understand or appreciate what Depp was attempting to depict is shallow and/or dense. Excellent movie! I feel "The Brave" deserves the respect of the American movie public. It is really pathetic the movie was panned so badly that Depp refused to release it in the United States.
  • 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.
  • gilbertgrape995 August 2002
    The movie touched me, it is pure beauty, and johnny depp proves once more he has a lot to say. Vilko Filac's photography is terrific, Iggy Pop's music is great. and the actors are great. We expect anotherone Johnny!!!!
  • Brave, The (1997)

    * (out of 4)

    Johnny Depp's directorial debut is a film I've been dying to see since I first heard about it back around 1996. In the film Depp plays an American Indian who can't get a job due to being a drunk and this doesn't leave much of a future for his wife and two children. Somehow he is introduced to a man (Marlon Brando) who offers his $50,000 to be tortured and killed in a snuff film. With no other future in site the man takes the job. There's been all sorts of reasons why this film was never released in America. I've heard stories of Depp being mad at American critics who trashed the film in Cannes and I've heard the storyline was just too depressing for release here. I think the real reason is that the film is simply a piece of junk. Since Depp was director, star and co-writer he certainly has to take the majority of the blame. The film has a terrific storyline but he doesn't do a thing with it and in the end the film is simply a mess. Everyone delivers their lines at such a slow and drawn out way that had they sped it up just 1% then I'm sure the film would have lost an hour of its running time. The performances are also dull and that includes Brando. I might sound like George here but this film has gotten a lot of great reviews from fans but to me it sounds like people love this film just because it has a foreign, non-Hollywood feel to it. Add in the fact that he didn't get released and they seem to be hailing this as some sort of masterpiece that "normal folks" can't "get". I think Depp is an incredibly talented guy but you wouldn't know it by watching this film.
  • On behalf of the movie-going public with at least a shred of intelligence, I would like to thank Johnny Depp for making this his one-and-only directing effort. What could have been a powerful story was ruined by totally implausible actions on behalf of several characters. Depp's character decides to spend the money paid for his life on a sort of shanty-town fun park, for example, rather than taking down Brando's character and his flunky, and then fleeing somewhere with the cash. Brando was almost painful to watch, it's horrible to see an old actor past his prime. Perhaps it would have been useful to stop trying to make a point and start thinking about what characters would really do. Also, the actions of the priest seem totally wrong. Watch the movie and I'm sure you will agree. The ending was similarly silly, and the only thing making this movie remotely watchable was Johnny Depp's performance. I'll give him, the man can act, though he should leave directing to someone, ANYONE, else.
  • For anyone who's followed Johnny Depp's career it was pretty interesting to watch his first movie as a film director. The story he chose dealt with an Indian-Mexican-whatever (it's not very precise) that's gonna make a big sacrifice for his family. What kind of sacrifice? Well, you'll have to watch "The Brave" to know it, 'cause thats the movie's main secret. They're poor, they live in a place that looks like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre farm... Everything's so tough. One of Depp's biggest mistakes was not to give a normal personality to any of the characters. They're all so eccentric, they're all freaks, and that makes the story a little bit unbelievable. He shouldn't had played the main character, because he looks more like a "cock-rocker" than like a wretched Indian native. Besides, the script has no rhythm at all, and it's quite irregular.

    In short: "The brave" is not as bad as all the critics think, and we have to thank Depp for trying to make a different cinema, so influenced by his friends Jarmusch or Kusturica. But he's not Jarmusch, he's a great actor, not a director. Anyway, this was his first try... Let's give him a break.

    *My rate: 5/10
  • This is one of the most beautiful and at the same time most dreadful movies I ever saw. Screenplay, directing and lead actor - Johnny Depp, music - Iggy Pop, and the fact that Marlon Brando agreed to participate says enough. Story itself could be told in just few sentences, so do not expect much of action. Movie is slow, rough and crushing and it is more about evoking psychological atmosphere than telling a story. Cast is great, music too, and the way Depp pulled off the role and directing, in my opinion, makes this movie his lifetime achievement.


    IMDb rating for this movie is shameful and tells more about superficial taste of today's audience than quality of the movie itself.
  • When this came on Tasmanian television, (oh yes) I did have some misgivings about staying up late to watch it. Then the "directed by Johnny Depp" came on and I thought....boy if Brando wasn't in this I am off to bed. But I sat up, watched it, and it one of those films that stays with you. The horror and the torture come later, and it is awful to think of this brave young man subjecting himself to these monsters, but that is the lure of the story I guess. Perfect casting by Depp, cant argue with the direction or the story. It's bleak but somehow beautiful at the same time. Yes it shows the best and worst of humanity. Not something to watch with the family on a movie night, but it does deserve an will not enjoy it but you will remember it.
  • Vincent Gallo with "Brown Bunny" Marlin Brando with "One-Eyed Jacks" Dennis Hopper with "The Last Movie" Jack Nicholson with " Drive, He Said" Tim Carey with "The World's Greatest Sinner" Ed Norton with "Keeping the Faith" Jodie Foster with "Little Man Tate" Kevin Spacey with "Albino Alligator"

    All of these are similar actors who make huge mistakes in misunderstanding cinematic vision. All of these choose to act from the inside out, so they don't understand how to build a long form composition from a visual vocabulary. You can start many places in building a film, but rarely does it work to start with a inner performance. (Rarely, "Bunny" worked because he had those two clever twists at the end that restructured what went before.)

    Sean Penn, alone in this class knows what to do. His "The Pledge" is one of the purest performance experiences I know, together with his similar collaboration with Woody Allen in "Sweet and Lowdown." In both those, the director knew how to shrinkwrap the cinema around the performance because the single performances (Nicholson, Penn respectively) were not of a character, but a range of characters.

    If this weren't Depp, it wouldn't be so amazing that it lacks imagination. That's because time and time again Depp as an actor shows that he understands a creative director's cinematic structure and how he fits in. And not just one type of approach; he has collaborated with a wide variety of visions from the synthetic to the abstract, through folded and flat, annotated and straight.

    And gosh, take a look at the sets. They were designed with such amazing richness and possibilities by an eastern European creative team that understands circus. And then not leveraged in the slightest by Depp.

    Much has been made of Brando's manner through his career, especially the notion that he needs a strong director who will force not only a deep performance, but will indicate the slots for him to fill in the greater composition. I'm not sure about that; I see him trying amazing things even when in otherwise lazy movies.

    Brando and Depp were friends and had worked together before. Its unsettling that Brando's work here seems unintegrated with anything else in the project, not even the world of Depp's character.

    I hate to agree with the conventional wisdom that this is a poor film, an unsuccessful Jesus parable.

    I come to these primarily to get another window into the soul of a valued actor. Some of his performances have mattered to me, and I believe no actor can be rich without being a rich person.

    Well, he may be rich, but he lacks a rich compositor's eye.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
  • I am a cinema maniac and have a DVD collection of nearly 1200 movies besides other 300 VHS, including all the Hollywood Academy Award Winners. My tastes go to Italian, English, French and American films of 1930,40, 50 and 60. But I see and buy films of today even being the distribution here around 90% of American films, the majority very bad, not to mention the real word. I missed THE BRAVE when it passed here in our cinemas and yesterday I noticed by chance that it was to be shown on TV. AS the director was Johnny Depp I decided to see it. I knew J. Depp as an actor only. I enjoyed the film very much. It has substance and so I decided to keep it. However Leonard Maltin's 2008 MOVIE GUIDE does not even mention it. Why ? Why did Johnny Depp not let his film to be released in the U.S. . Can someone please explain ?
  • I agree with those that say, that this is a good story. It's like a Twilight Zone episode. In the beginning, one is intrigued and guessing what will happen but then that breaks down, and it doesn't seem to be fantasy anymore. It just seems like we don't really believe in the story or the characters anymore. Why would any of them act like that? Seriously, I really think Rod Serling could have gotten some great stuff out of this, apparently, Hostel-like story and setup. The subject of snuff-movies is an epic theme, but this way of telling the story is just so weak that we lose interest. Still it is a lot more interesting than the average movie, and clearly Johhny Depp is a talented director but he should really have thought some more about creating some excitement in this story.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah. All you ridiculous "let's go to the theater to watch the latest Bruckheimer"-kids should never watch this masterpiece and if they do they should better keep their mouths shut. Why can't they just get rid of their "Oh Johnny's so cute but somehow I don't like his movies"-attitude. This movie is so intense and so beautiful and Depp once again proved he is one of the last REAL artists in that greedy money-machine called Hollywood. This film is art! It's a little bit "Jarmuschish" a little bit "Lynchish" but in the end it's all "Deppish". I'm sure a lot of people are just disappointed cause they didn't see any spectacular snuff-movie scenes. Well, sorry for that. But you should think about the philosophy of this film before judging it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Think of many underrated movies out there. "Chaplin", with Robert Downey Jr. Martin Scorscese's "Kundun". Kevin Smith's "Chasing Amy". Or Troy Duffy's "Boondock Saints".

    "The Brave", based on the novel by Gregory McDonald, is among them. Why the critics at Cannes... canned this film, I will never understand. This film should have been released in the United States, and everywhere else around the world, for it is a sensitive drama that truly shows what an artist Johnny Depp is.

    Raphael's (or is it Rafael? I'm not sure) love for his family compels him to sign on to star in a 'snuff movie'. For those not in the know, it means he will be killed on camera for money. He hopes this money will be enough to bring his family out of poverty. He takes care of everything in his life before following the trail to his doom.

    For a first-time director, Johnny Depp does a better job than many big-time directors (Michael Bay? Are you paying attention?). The score by Iggy Pop also helps the film move along. And it's gripping finale outshines other classic endings, like "Planet of the Apes" or "The Sixth Sense".

    This is easily among my Top 100 Movies of all-time. It's far better than many classic movies and current films around. So if the reason behind its unfair dismissal by film critics is justified, then show me the flaws. Because I can't find any.

    10 out of 10
  • Don't get fooled by the title. It does not refer to Johnny Depp. No it refers to the viewer who is brave enough to endure this waste of time. I watched this movie at a friends house and I did not know the movie, but he said it got good reviews. We were all outraged that Johnny Depp wasted 2 hours of our lives with this crap. Most boring movie ever. We wanted to turn it off, but my friend said that it had a good ending. He lied. Afterwards we decided to give him a couple of punches for this terrible movie, and it was the last time he decides which movie we'll see. If somebody you don't like asks you: Hey seen any good movies lately? Point him towards The Brave.
  • The Brave (1997), starring Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando, serves to be an absorbing work of cinema for the intelligent audience. A modern take on Dr Faustus, The Brave presents the heart-wrenching tale of a poverty-stricken American Indian family of four (father, mother, and two children) living in a small trailer next to a garbage dump. The father, who is only recently released from the jail, is offered the chance to star as a victim in a snuff film--a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people without the aid of special effects.

    He quickly realizes that he is worthless to his family alive. On the contrary, if he accepts the offer then his family will be paid a sum of US$50,000. After accepting the advance, he is granted a week's time to be with his family before fulfilling the terms of the agreement. Johnny Depp not only directs the film but also co-writes the screenplay in collaboration with his brother. The movie features some of the most haunting scenes ever filmed in cinema, which allow the viewers to reflect on their own lives. And the real beauty of the movie is that the violence is only implicit (those on the look out out for excesses of sex and violence might be disappointed). The Brave highlights in the most poignant manner the perpetual plight of the American natives residing in the US, something that Marlon Brando vociferously raised his voice against at several junctures in his career (he even refused to accept the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The Godfather).

    The movie features just one scene between Brando and Depp, but that scene is magical in so many ways. First, Brando's speech on life, death and sacrifice is mesmerizing to say the least. Second, Depp's facial expressions remind the viewer of the Brando of old. Third, it's one of Brando's final few screen presences... every second of his screen-time is worth cherishing. Fourth, the fact that the two characters are eternally connected despite having very little in common.

    The movie's improvisation on Dr. Faustus is worth appreciating: here the protagonist is willing to give away his life (as oppose to his soul) for a gain that's purely pecuniary in nature (as oppose to knowledge). It pretty much sums up the modern society's preference for money over knowledge. Another facet that makes the movie important and appealing is that despite being a Hollywood product, it has a strong indie feel associated with it. The credit for which should go to the Depp brothers. The arresting performances from Brando and Depp lift the movie above mediocrity despite its weak direction and average performances from the support cast.

    So, if you are looking for something different and thought-provoking to break your daily routine of watching banal, mindless Hollywood-like films then The Brave will surely succeed in titillating your senses.

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  • I truly love this film. Of all of Johnny's films so far, this one really touches me. I feel for Rafael and his family. No matter how many times I watch this film, I get very emotional knowing what is about to happen to Rafael. This film also shows Native Americans as they are and not in a white man's version of how they think Native Americans talk and act. I have a DVD from Korea but it is not the full-version and am participating in a letter writing campaign to Johnny Depp to ask him to release this beautiful film in it's entirety on Region One DVD form. If you would like to participate, please contact Firefly at for details. This movie is worth seeing and should be seen in it's entirety!!!
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