Actress Alyssa Milano’s newly released Netflix movie Brazen has been described as basically what you’d get if you crossed Fifty Shades of Grey with a murder mystery. That’s the snappy tease given about the film from Glamour, which adds, maybe a little cryptically: “It’s bonkers. You’ll love it.”
The movie is based on the novel Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts. And it actually continues a trend we’ve written about on a number of occasions now. Competition for exciting new projects is as fierce as ever among the various rival streaming services. As well as among filmmakers in general. And books are increasingly being seized upon as fodder for adaptations that seem to be moving through the green-light process with more rapidity than ever. Lady Gaga’s latest star turn, for example, came in the Ridley Scott-directed House of Gucci. It was based on author Sara Gay Forden’s The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed. Apple, meanwhile, is releasing a limited series, Five Days at Memorial, based on Sheri Fink’s book about a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. And Netflix has all kinds of examples — like Nightbooks, the movie based on a children’s book of the same name, from 2018. Plus series like Stay Close and The Witcher, both based on books.
Brazen Netflix movie
In the case of Brazen, Milano plays Grace, a high-profile mystery writer who races back to her family’s home in Washington DC at the request of her estranged sister. From Netflix’s press material: “When her sister is killed and her double life as a webcam performer is revealed, Grace ignores the warnings of cool-headed detective Ed (Sam Page) and gets involved in the case.”
In promoting the movie in recent days via an appearance on The View, Milano added that Brazen was filmed during the pandemic. With all of the complexity that implies.
“I think it’s got everything for escapism,” she said about the film. “It’s got mystery and action and, as we saw, a hot neighbor. Great performances by Sam Page. Malachi Weir is just so talented.”
She continued: “We shot during the pandemic, which was really difficult and fascinating. A lesson on how, if protocol is followed, we can actually prevent this thing. We shot for three and a half months, it’s very hard to shoot a movie. We’re all in close quarters. Because the protocol was so strict, not one person got sick on the crew. It was a great experience for me.”
Ratings and reaction
Is this one worth you checking out? Well, unfortunately, the reviews thus far aren’t especially promising. Early reviews that have trickled in for Brazen seem to have coalesced around a sense of befuddlement. Of the what the heck did I just watch variety.
“Slick, but increasingly silly,” is how Variety described it. A murder-mystery version of a Hallmark movie, lamented The New York Times. And this, from the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s not boring bad, but flashy bad. It’s not ‘I’m sick of this, already.’ It’s ‘I can’t believe what I’m looking at.'”
Meanwhile, at IMDb, the movie currently has a 3.4/10 rating, based on responses from 226 users as of the time of this writing. If you’re in the mood for guilty pleasure that doesn’t require you to think too hard? Brazen might check that box for you. But don’t ask more than that from it.