Sunday, September 16, 2007

NPR Vigilante?

Jodie Foster's most recent film, "The Brave One," reminded me somewhat of her first film, "Taxi Driver," except with Foster filling in for Robert de Niro in the Travis Bickle role. However, the main character of "The Brave One" is not a maladjusted ne'er do well like Travis; rather, she is a sophisticated Upper West Side dweller who hosts an public radio show on which she decries the loss of various aspects of life in New York, the city she loves passionately. After she herself is the victim of a violent crime, she becomes terrified of damn near everything about New York, so she gets herself an unlicensed nine millimeter pistol and stumbles into an increasingly bold campaign of vigilante acts. Hip, leftish intellectuals generally don't tend to glorify one-person vengeance campaigns, and Foster's character has a fascinating internal monologue about the morality of her actions. I suspect that half of the audience last night was oblivious to that monologue, given the loud cheering that erupted when Foster blasted away at bad guys. However, that obnoxious audience reaction reinforced to me the debate Foster's character had with herself. Foster also played a cat-and-mouse game--in person and on the air--with a quiet, dignified cop played by Terrence Howard. The final plot twist was somewhat disappointing, and seemed to cut against where the movie seemed to be heading.

I thought the leftish twist on a usually right-wing genre was interesting, and it might draw some derisive hoots from the cultural and political left. I personally take a dim view of vigilantism and unsanctioned ownership and carrying of firearms, but it's worth exploring how someone from a class unaccustomed to the kind of violent behavior that particular individual might associate with a lower socioeconomic class might turn to that behavior herself. It may also be worth exploring why a hip, leftish intellectual might think herself somehow above such a violent response to violence. I also wonder whether a sort of class snobbery on these questions may be affecting the rather virulent denunciations of this movie by some of the critics.

1 comment:

minijonb said...

I saw a preview for this a couple of weeks ago. I really couldn't buy into what the characters were doing.