Brazen, unfortunately, feels like a movie-length version of a network detective show. That is to say, its mix of romance and murder mystery is perfectly serviceable, but nothing spectacular.
Bestselling author Grace Miller (Alyssa Milano) is abruptly called back to the house she grew up in when her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup) asks for help. She has kicked a pill addiction and is now teaching English at the local high school. Kath also plans to fight for custody of her young son from her rich and well-connected lawyer ex-husband (David Lewis). Also, in the interest of keeping it a secret, she doesn’t tell Grace about her side job of working as a dominatrix online for Fantasy, Inc. Grace promises to stay and help out as much as she can.
When Kathleen is suddenly murdered after a dominatrix session, Grace snaps into action and assists the police investigation, led by her romantic interest, homicide detective Ed (Sam Page). Despite the fact that a writer is helping the police with an investigation where the victim is both her sister and she’s romantically involved with the detective in charge, she is somehow given the go-ahead. Of course, because this is that kind of film, more women working for Fantasy Inc. begin to get murdered. Suddenly, Grace and Ed have a serial killer on their hands.
The film is well-acted and well-shot; one particularly excellent move is honing in a client who sees one dominatrix murdered during his video session, since it’s on camera. The actors all put in perfectly competent performances, though there are no standouts here. Several of Kathleen’s English students end up in supporting roles as suspects, and the actors (Matthew Aaron Finlan, Daniel Diemer) do an acceptable job with the roles they have been given. Sadly, there’s just not much to work with.
Overall, Brazen is a perfectly fine piece of filmmaking. It’s not here to revolutionize the sex work industry, or even say anything particularly meaningful about either it or true crime writers. Mostly, Brazen exists as a film to watch with your girlfriends on a Friday night. However, be sure to keep the windows locked.
Dir. Monika Mitchell
Now streaming on Netflix