Edinburgh International Film Festival review: Brave

Brave's Princess Marida
Brave's Princess Marida
Share this article
Have your say

Boldly (or should that be bravely?) bucking the trend of typical animated blockbusters, Disney-Pixar’s latest offering finds them roaming in the gloaming with their first feisty red-headed heroine who wants her freedom in tenth century Scotland.

Brave, the closing gala film of the EIFF, screening at the Festival Theatre tomorrow, finds archery-mad Princess Merida’s (Kelly Macdonald) quarrel with her mother and father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), take a magical twist as she is plunged into a race against time that could see history repeating itself.

This is a story about mothers and daughters, Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews’ script refusing to focus too much on minor characters or subplots, to ensure Merida and her mum remain the centre of attention.

It’s impossible to reveal much more without spoiling a major plot point glossed over in the trailers, suffice to say Brave veers off in a direction that involves Julie Walters’ turn as a not-so-wicked witch.

Extended cameos for Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd, Lords Dingwall, Macintosh and MacGuffin respectively, increase the knockabout comedy levels, but there is some real drama at the heart of the film that will leave viewers of all ages with a tear in their eye.

Despite featuring every Scottish cliché in the book – haggis, kilts, cabers and even Oor Wullie’s catchphrase are all referenced – Pixar’s take on Scotland avoids being twee or condescending, thanks to a smart script that respects the country and its heritage.

It’s also easy to see why VisitScotland decided to plunge £7 million into promoting the film, with the hills, glens and forests looking stunning throughout following research trips that also took in Edinburgh Castle and the Fringe in 2006.

Clocking in at a spry 93-minute running time, Brave doesn’t outstay its welcome, though the leanness of the script should cause slight concern for anyone wanting more than a kid-friendly piece of escapism.

Though not quite up to WALL-E or Toy Story standards, this is still one of the year’s best family films that consistently hits the target.

Rating: ****

• Brave goes on general release from Friday, August 3