Netflix is reportedly in the process of nearing the deal toward acquiring Halle Berry’s new film, Bruised, a film that intially had Blake Lively attached to star with a different director. Next to starring, Berry now has her first directing gig on the Michelle Rosenfarb-penned MMA drama which is screening as a work-in-progress for this year’s virtual Toronto International Film Festival.
The news comes marking a new milestone for the actress after years of memorable screen roles, as well as bookmarks of insurmountable struggle, which she herself spotlights in a recent cover story at Variety. In the article, it is noticed that Berry reportedly endured production with two cracked ribs after shooting a major fight scene, and insisted on a 5:00 a.m. morning wake up schedule to stay on top of the day’s goings-on.
“I didn’t want to stop because I had prepared for so long,” Berry says. “We had rehearsed; we were ready. So my mind, my director’s mind, was just — keep going. And I compartmentalized that, and I just kept going: ‘I’m not going to stop. I’ve come too far. I’m going to act as if this isn’t hurting. I’m going to will myself through it.’ And so we did.”
Here are TIFF programmer Cameron Bailey’s notes on the film, which is produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Brad Feinstein, Guymon Casady, Terry Dougas, Linda Gottlieb, Gillian Hormel, and Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis:
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut while starring as a washed-up MMA fighter struggling for redemption as both an athlete and a mother.
Jackie “Justice” (Berry) has been working multiple jobs and barely scraping by ever since losing an important match years ago. When her boyfriend, Desi (Adan Canto), manages to trick her into going to an underground fight, her passion for the sport is reignited. As Jackie prepares to go back to “the only thing she is good at,” the son she once abandoned is dropped off at her doorstep. Confronted by her past choices and traumas, Jackie will have to fight to reclaim the two most meaningful things she has walked away from: six-year-old Manny and an MMA title.
Bruised unfolds amidst a well-worn New Jersey backdrop and immerses viewers in the world of MMA fighting and title-match preparations. Training sessions and matches are shot with an exhilarating, kinetic intensity that charts Jackie’s gruelling journey to get back into peak shape in order to compete with younger opponents.
With this assured debut feature, Academy Award winner Berry crafts a textured portrait of a woman defined by her fight-or-flight reactions to the challenges life has thrown her way. Through her explosive performance, the character Jackie simultaneously radiates tightly coiled rage and heart-rending vulnerability. She is supported by an amazing cast, including Shamier Anderson (Torontonian and 2019 TIFF Rising Star alumnus) as the encouraging MMA league owner and Sheila Atim in a breakout performance as the enigmatic trainer Bobbi “Buddhakan” Berroa.
A classic redemption story, Bruised regards all of its characters’ flaws with great empathy while building to a rousing, fist-pumping finale.
More at Deadline.