Monday, September 16, 2019

I Prefer Ponytails

I love to see a fresh, completely original genre film connect with audiences.

I usually just wish I actually was a part of said audience.

Quick Plot: Petula and Tilda are paying off their student loans the old fashioned way: selling drugs from an NYC apartment. When cops bust their stash, they realize the $83,000 they now owe their terrifying boss can only come from one source.

Hopping on the Amtrack, the ladies travel up north to their childhood pal Daphne's sprawling Mrs. Havisham-like estate. Daphne (played by the always wonderful Madeline Brewer) isn't quite all there. Following a childhood treehouse fall (caused, no less, by Petula and Tilda), Daphne seems to be stunted in an endless game of make believe. Playing the doting mother, she welcomes the antsy Tilda as her fantasy daughter and slightly more controlled Petula as the visiting "doctor."

Written and directed by newcomer Mitzi Peirone, Braid has big ambitions of being high art. With its perfume ad imagery, overused filters, and deliberately muddled narrative, it's working really hard to stand out as avante garde.

I hated it.

Now I say this with a big grain of salt, most likely the very expensive pink Himalayan type. Braid is unique, and there's a lot of credit owed to Peirone's vision. She gets strong, if frustratingly aimless performances from her three leads, and certainly creates something you haven't quite seen before. I just wish it gave me something more in return.

One of my most frequently referenced films of recent years is the very divisive #Horror, a social media-fueled tale of preteen terror that seems to attract pure admiration or hatred from its audience. While I found it oddly and deeply thoughtful in capturing a very specific age, I can also fully understand another viewer--particularly one who never experienced the joys of being a 13-year-old girl--turning it off after ten minutes. Braid had a similar quality for me: I can, objectively, understand a critic raving about its use of imagery and nonlinear storytelling as an innovation. I will just not be one of them.

There's a sense that Peirone never wants her audience to really connect with the characters. Our sympathy is never aimed at anyone in particular, and as soon as the stakes seem to be raised, they're just as quickly removed with virtually no consequences to anyone's actions. 

But it all looks reallllllly pretty.

High Points
You can't complain about Braid's setting, a sprawling Yonkers mansion perfectly suited and filmed for this kind of story

Low Points
The film's own dismissal of any real consequences makes it hard to invest anything on our end into the story

Lessons Learned
If you really prefer drug dealing to office work, it's probably not a great idea to take selfies with your merchandise

The best way to stay fit when left to your own devices is to center your diet around the most colorful gelatin creations your kitchen can produce

Facial scars heal fast if they're accompanied by aggressive opera music

I didn't care for Braid, but it's by no means a waste of time. The style just didn't connect with me, but as is often the case, one woman's impression of pretentiousness is another's prime perfection. Those who want to check out a new filmmaker's voice, and especially fans of more ethereal style genre film may certainly find a lot here. I didn't, but hope to with Peirone's future work. 


  1. I've had this one in my watchlist but hadn't gotten around to it... but you pushed me off that fence... and I really liked it.
    I get what you mean about 'no consequences', which is what I usually dislike about 'dream' movies. But I think there is consequence here... as hinted by that final scene (which I anticipated early on and wasn't disappointed).
    Not that it all made perfect sense to me... but it had coherence.

    The opening scenes do set up the confusion, suggesting something outside 'the game' when, really, it's all just a ship in a bottle.

    It strongly reminded me of one of my all-time favorite movies, Daisies... which is an art house type of thing, but fun.
    Also, Robert Altman's '3 Women' kept popping to mind.

    1. Oooh I don't know Daisies! Will have to check it out.