Damsel (2024)

Damsel Review


Millie Bobby Brown’s character is a bold princess in a fairy tale that unravels its secrets too soon.

“Damsel” starts with a monologue: “There are tales of chivalry, where the heroic knight saves the damsel in distress,” a young woman’s voice says. “This is not one of them.”

Thank you for clearing that up, I thought, probably sarcastically and maybe unfairly. Somewhere in my brain, Miranda Priestly murmured: Strong female lead? Groundbreaking.

I like a scrappy heroine as much as the next person but leading with that foot, we’re not like the other girls, we’re the cool girls has started to feel tired. “Damsel” isn’t bad; it’s just been chewed on awhile. Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 Weeks Later”) from a screenplay by Dan Mazeau, it’s an action movie starring Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie, a princess from a poor kingdom ruled by her father (Ray Winstone) and stepmother (Angela Bassett). She agrees to marry the handsome prince from a much richer realm, only to find out something much darker is going on here.

There are parts of “Damsel” that remind me of one of the best feminist action movies I’ve seen recently: “Ready or Not.” In that 2019 film, our hero marries into a rich family only to discover their family traditions include a pretty horrific ritual she must survive until morning. This plot goes along similar lines but in like … medieval times when Robin Wright is also there and she’s queen and also there are dragons. (Also one part feels like “Eyes Wide Shut,” but this isn’t that kind of movie.)

Elodie is a princess in the post-Disney mold: She can ride horses and read books and decipher maps and outsmart traps because she’s smart. She figures a lot of stuff out and spends much of her time working on how to get away. She starts the movie obedient and obliging and corseted; by the end, she’s in a much smaller skirt and taking no guff. In short, she becomes self-actualized.

None of this is bad in itself. It’s good for heroines to love their families and willingly bear responsibility and learn to face their fears, especially when the audience might need those lessons, too “Damsel” seems likely to be watched by some younger viewers, particularly fans of Brown from “Stranger Things,” where she played Eleven. And it’s nice when there are dragons or castles or whatever.

But the movie is not very good. The visual effects look cheap because they are cheap; Netflix movies always look kind of janky. But the bigger issue is pacing: The first part of the story moves quickly to set up one big shock at a time, meaning that all but one shocking thing happens right away; then Elodie just keeps having to overcome oddly repetitive obstacles for herself over and over again through most of the rest of the movie until what should have been another big twist finally comes when we’ve already had enough twists. The problem with this section isn’t that it can’t be overcome; it’s that it drags on far too long without variation or momentum. And once we find out why Elodie has been trapped in this situation at all, it turns out not to be worth it

Primarily, however, ‘Damsel’ demonstrates that studios are still unaware of the fact that a “powerful female lead” does not automatically guarantee a good film. It takes more than that: robust supporting characters; an intense plot line; a clear understanding of what makes a movie interesting for viewers. Even such heroine has to be human with genuine wants and weaknesses; one-dimensional protagonists who always do what’s right may be inspiring but they aren’t very believable. This does not really help young people who think they must possess all physical strength, emotional control and mental ability in order to become true heroes. Nor does it provide much guidance for older ones either way.

Watch Damsel For Free On Gomovies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top