The words are in the visionDan Slevin
As an animation company, Pixar have never needed to rely on dialogue to tell their stories. Kids won’t sit still for endless exposition and animators have so much more control of all aspects of the frame. Think of the first act of WALL•E, for example, or the first ten heartbreaking wordless minutes of Up. Brave has its fair share of verbal gags - and with gifted comic Billy Connolly as one of the vocal talents why wouldn’t you - but the shifting relationships between the main characters are shown more than told.
Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is the first born child of Scottish highland King Fergus (Connolly), a tomboy wanting to live up to her father’s legendary adventures. Her mother (Emma Thompson) is the power behind the Scottish throne - although more benign than, say, Lady Macbeth - and thanks to her Merida is being groomed for a marriage which will unite the clans and strengthen Scotland against her enemies.
When Merida - in best teenage fashion - rebels against her mother’s wishes and finds a witch to cast a spell to change her fate, unexpected consequences nearly result in tragedy. The character animation in Brave sometimes feels more Disney than Pixar (not necessarily a bad thing) but the film as a whole is so good that when it falls short - and it sometimes does - it seems much more like a betrayal than it would in any normal film. The kids I shared a screening with were spellbound throughout and I can totally recommend Brave as fine family entertainment.
Meanwhile, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de Flore cleverly builds layers of parallel stories, backwards and forwards in time between present day and early 90s Montreal and Paris in the late 60s. While I don’t entirely buy the conclusion that Vallée reaches, there’s no denying the emotional power of the build-up and the cleverness of the construction. Worth a look. Not worth two looks.
Finally, Safe is an entertaining B-movie which proves that great direction can salvage a lousy script - even when they are both done by the same person. Boaz Yakin has written and directed this thriller about a disgraced ex-New York cop and mixed martial arts fighter (Jason Statham) who finds salvation when he saves an eleven year old Chinese mathematics savant from the Russian mob. Yakin - the writer - has no ear for dialogue but it doesn’t really matter because Statham doesn’t want to strain his first American accent and the action sequences and cutting between scenes are so good. A guilty pleasure.