To prepare for the role, Berry not only watched fights (she’s been a lifelong boxing fan), but also asked female MMA fighters why they chose the sport. “Now that’s not true across the board, but my research has taught me that men and women often fight for very different reasons,” Berry said. “Often, men fight for a career to take care of their family, to be the breadwinner, to get out of poverty. And women often struggle to get their voice back.
She added: “Because many of them were mistreated in one way or another during their early years, fighting became their only way to regain their self-esteem, power and security. in the world.”
When I asked Berry if her decision to direct was part of her own journey to control how she appeared onscreen rather than being subject to the whims of an industry that until recently had often had relegated middle-aged women, let alone black women, into supportive roles. , she stopped. I asked her if she needed a moment to reflect on the twists and turns of a career that led her to be the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress (the “Monster’s Ball” of 2001) and a Worst Actress Razzie (“Catwoman” in 2004).
“We have all been spooned versions of who we are, but not by ourselves,” Berry said. “It’s the feeling of power I’m talking about. I feel powerful just because I can do it and put my voice in the world somehow, and my sensitivity as a black woman there.
Two scenes, in particular, stood out in which Berry didn’t just refer to his past films, but also clearly revised the traditional male gaze. From the start, an argument between Jackie and her partner and manager, Desi (Adan Canto), leads to sex, and their intensity and harshness reminded me of the moment in “Monster’s Ball” when her character, Leticia Musgrove, and Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) engage in an equally desperate and violent form of connection. In “Bruised,” however, this scene is not as climactic, but rather cut short and interrupted by the bigger story in which Jackie’s son returns.
Later, we realize that the meeting between Jackie and Desi was also there to contrast with the more affectionate exchange between Jackie, and her new trainer, Bobbi “Buddhakan” Berroa (Sheila Atim). Not only is Berry pointing the camera closer and lingering over the women’s caresses on each other’s bodies, but the passion is cathartic and truly healing for both.