‘BRAZEN’ is a romance-mystery based on a book by Nora Roberts that critics would surely lambast for being tawdry and trashy. But if you enjoy this kind of breezy material, you’d find it quite an amusing guilty pleasure to while your time away.
The lead character is romance-mystery novelist herself, Grace Miller (Alyssa Milano, best known for hit series like “Melrose Place” and “Charmed”), who is also considered as some sort of a crime expert as she has helped in solving some cases in real life. She is a popular writer with a big fan base.
While on a book tour in Washington DC, she goes to visit her younger sister, Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup), who lives there and has sent her an urgent message. Kath still lives in the house where they were raised and she needs Grace signature to obtain a mortgage for the house.
Kath had a bitter divorce with her politician husband, Jonathan (David Lewis), who got custody of their daughter. She used to be an addict (but she has kicked the habit) and now works as a high school teacher. She wants to get a really good lawyer to get back her child from her husband. So she now wants to mortgage their house for the custody case she’s filing.
Also, to augment her income, she is secretly working in a small studio in her bedroom as a cybersex performer and dominatrix on webcam, as a sideline for a company called Fantasy Inc who makes sure the identities of the ladies working for them always remain undiscovered.
She has just finished doing a session with an online client when an intruder suddenly gets inside her home and attacks her. She ends up dead and Grace returns home to her corpse. Their handsome neighbor, Ed (Sam Page), is a police homicide detective who happens to read her books.
He is assigned to investigate the case. Grace insists on helping out even if Ed’s partner, Ben (Malachi Weir), and their superior (Alison Araya) are initially against the idea. But what Grace wants, she gets, and she goes around with them to help snoop around. Two of the suspects are students of Grace.
Soon, another victim dies in what is surely the work of a serial killer. To help catch the murderer, Grace offers herself to be the bait and also works as cybersex worker online to set up a trap to attract him. That’s about all we could reveal as anything else we’d say would be a spoiler.
Alyssa Milano takes her role more seriously than warranted for a clear potboiler like this one that seems to be like a story based on one of her character’s own books. She manages to make her character quite sympathetic even if Grace doesn’t really seem to be that smart as they’d make us believe. Production values are pretty slick and Director Mitchell knows the usual formula how to heighten the exciting parts in the narrative. There’s a ready market for this kind of easy viewing fare we need when we just want to relax. After all, one doesn’t always need a movie with a deep message or life challenging story. Agree or disagree?