|Film review: Brave (Scottish)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 13 August 2012 14:12|
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
"A Queen doesnae place 'er weapon oan th' table."
That’s Queen Elinor (Thompson) 'spikin tae Princess Merida (Macdonald), a wild bairn who wants tae change 'er fate frae fancy dresses, formal duties an' fake smiles. Whaur most princesses practice cross-stitch, Merida rides ben th' forest. In place ay a lute, she wields a baw an' arraw. She's closer tae Link frae The Legend of Zelda than a Disney Princess. An' tae top 'er aff? An untrained barnit ay bricht red hair.
What sets Merida apart frae most animated heroes, Pixar included? One, she’s a lassie. Two, she's ginger. But three, an' most importantly, she doesnae hae a sidekick.
Merida spends aw day wi' 'er cuddie. but diz it gab? Ne'er. Half an hoor later, fleein' frae a horde ay male suitors, she winds up at a witch’s but-an-ben, a decision tha' introduces anither beastie tae th' story: a bear. It doesnae gab either.
What follows is a study in miscommunication. Merida an' th' sometimes-kind-sometimes-lethal beest try tae kin each other. It groans, she shrugs, furniture gits broken. So th' pair bond ower fishin' in th' loch. In th' sam way, she struggles wi' 'er mum, each ay th' kimmers tay thrawn tae listen tae each other atween fights.
It's a surprisingly intimate thin' tae focus oan in a big summer kids film. but that’s nae tae say Brave isn’t spectacular tae swatch at: th' expansive scottish landscape, foo ay broon trees an' green moss, is gorgeoos - an' after Th' Descent, Dog Soldiers an' NEDs, a much-needed shot in th' arm fur th' coontry's toorist industry - while Merida’s hair has mair life in a body follicle than th' entire cast ay Happy Feet 2 (kudos tae Pixar fur discoverin' th' digital equivalent ay Herbal Essences).
There’s gung-ho action, tay, provided by billy connolly’s loveable brute ay a faither, Fergus. A kin' wi' a grudge against th' fearsome bear fur bitin' aff his leg, he’s a boisteroos drunkard ay a cheil. Merida’s wee brothers, meanwhile, brin' th' laughs, scamperin' abit loch wee hairy monsters, stealin' cakes an' smashin' pots aw ower th' castle. As fur Disney’s latest princess, e'en wi' a clunky voiceover narration, Macdonald’s Merida sings aff th' screen, as feisty an' fully-fledged as a lass can be.
The result is somethin' that’s nae as immediately jaw-droppin' as, say, Th' Incredibles, but despite some gags fallin' flat, it’s properly enchantin'. Partly coz it’s a new direction fur Pixar – its magical sprites owe a debt tae Ghibli’s female-led fantasy, while th' fairytale visuals hark back tae tha' brammer Celtic cartoon Th' Secrit ay Kells - an' partly coz it still feels loch classic Disney.
Is it th' fact tha' e'en th' story’s sinister hag is given a silly side by a barmy Julie Walters? Or tha' one ay th' thee directors is The Lion King an' Beauty and the Beast writer Brenda Chapman? Baith ay them help. But whit makes Brave special is tha' fur aw its lush woodlands an' lood bangs, at its heart it’s simply a tale ay two folk tryin' tae hae a conversation.
It’s nae mistake tha' th' openin' sees Thompson’s Queen huntin' doon 'er dochter in a gam ay hide an' seek: when it comes tae characters an' emotion, Brave plonks its weapons oan th' table reit frae th' start. An' neither ay them ur a talkin' cuddie.
Cannae kin whit aam saying? To read this Brave review in English, click here.