Based on best-selling novelist Nora Roberts‘ Brazen Virtue, Netflix’s Brazen scores with romance and mystery in the kind of must-watch film that fans of the genre are bound to like.
Starring Alyssa Milano, Samuel Page, Malachi Weir, Emilie Ullerup, Alison Araya, David Lewis, and more, Brazen follows a successful true-crime novelist on a path towards uncovering her sister’s murderer. Grace (Milano) meets the handsome detective Ed (Page) on what should’ve been a quiet morning while she’s writing except he’s outdoors sawing away, and their quick chemistry becomes the film’s best catalyst. You’ll want them together right away, and something about Grace’s approach feels right—there’s no beating around the bush for her, and that’s entirely understandable when you think about the type of writer’s intuition she has.
Where the murderer’s identity is even more predictable than the romance tropes that are utilized, Brazen still scores somewhat of a balance. At the very least, it’s always intriguing. The film sizzles with the hurt/comfort trope, mutual pining, and the chemistry between Milano and Page works exquisitely. I can’t speak on how faithful the adaptation is to the novel, but as a standalone, it’s a thrilling romance worthy of watching.
The film’s relatively short timestamp doesn’t leave too much room for character development, but it’s something that we can look beyond considering our approach in criticism is judging the romance. Still, there are elements here and there that reveal who each of the characters are and what makes them tick. You can understand why Grace and Ed are drawn to each other, and there’s plenty to be said about the fact that he’s a fan of her books. A man who reads is a man who wants to understand more, and since her books target misogyny and the patriarchy, it tells us that if nothing else, his head is in the right place.
The straightforward attraction and the ease in their conversations help the romance flow effortlessly to the point where even when it sometimes feels like a Lifetime film, you never doubt their endgame. And nothing is more crucial for the genre than the fact that despite certain decisions, we don’t question the intentions or motives of the leads.
It’s also easy to appreciate that Ed doesn’t question her intuition even when it’s simple to understand why her involvement at times isn’t ideal, and thus, another voice is necessary to bring her along. While a part of me wishes we could’ve seen more grief from Grace’s end, it’s also easy to figure, considering what she does, that getting justice would be enough motive to keep her going. It’s the moment in the end where another quiet moment could’ve shown the audience her means of reconnecting with Kathleen’s loss again.
In this way, Netflix’s Brazen is essentially eye-candy with hints of emotional resonance here and there, but it just needed a little bit more. It’s a film worth watching, but its imperfections are also worth noting—imperfections that could’ve been resolved with care and attention to the emotions outside of rage (and a few more minutes).
In short, Alyssa Milano is incredible, which isn’t surprising to anyone who’s been a fan of hers since Charmed (and even if you’re a fan of the hidden gem, Sundays at Tiffany’s, which she co-stars alongside The Rookie’s Eric Winter). Netflix’s Brazen certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s yet another step into securing more romance adaptations, which we are always here for. It doesn’t matter how it happens as long as we have a satisfying happy ending that feels true to the characters.
Brazen is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.