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Byron Shire
August 2, 2021

Movie Review: Only The Brave

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With he bushfire season upon us (‘the country is a tinderbox’ is Australian journalism’s equivalent of the ‘first swallow of spring’), this timely movie reminds us of the sacrifices that firefighters make to keep safe our lives and homes. The shorthand character reference for the guys with whom we are about to spend the next couple of hours is provided by Acca Dacca’s ball-tearing It’s A Long Way To The Top’ (say no more – RIP Malcolm Young), and followed by a cracking joke about the Mount Rushmore monument (‘she thought it was naturally formed’). Testosterone is soon running rampant as Superintendent Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) and his municipal crew, including greenhorn ex-junkie Brendan McDonaugh (Miles Teller), strive to be designated ‘Hot Shots’ (ie, a fully professional team that works nationwide). After qualifying as such, in the summer of 2013 the Granite Mountain boys find themselves on the job and battling the the fast-spreading Yarnell Hill (Arizona) inferno. This true story (of which I was entirely unaware) is built on the camaraderie of the men involved, a strong sense of community that is eked out by director Joseph Kosinski and the depiction of old-fashioned courage in the face of danger. The film is intensely masculine, but that need not be to its detriment. If Mavis (Andie MacDowell) is little more than the lesser half of Sheriff Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges), Brolin’s wife Amanda (Jennifer Connelly) is given much more time and consideration. A ‘horse-whisperer’, she is childless and increasingly chagrined at the sacrifice she has had to make in her personal life to support Eric’s total commitment to his job. It is the sort of movie that has you wondering from about half-way ‘who will it be that gets killed?’ Eric? Brendan? The loyal deputy? The ladies’ man? The climax was (for me) unforeseen and, because of the genuineness of all performance, it was immensely moving. Check it out – it’s much better than the super-hero fluff.

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