Director Mitzi Peirone throws the audience in a nightmarish modern gothic fairy tale called Braid, filled with a fantastical highly-saturated palette of pulsating greens, candy pinks, ravishing reds and more.
Drug dealers Petula (Imogen Waterhouse) and Tilda (Sarah Hay) are on the run after being raided by the police, but, they must recover the funds somehow and make themselves scarce whilst figuring out a plan. Provoking trouble along the way, both liberated, and girls you don’t want to mess with, they head to their estranged wealthy childhood friend Daphne (Madeline Brewer) in the hope to raid her safe. But there are rules for their stay, as Daphne lives in isolation and is clearly kooky and unstable herself.
Arriving at the creepy estate, the girls have to take their roles, Petula as the doctor visiting the house and Tilda as the young daughter. They play what seems to be a well-known and expected game of doctors, nurses (minus the nurse) and happy families with Daphne as a sadistic mother with a single all-encompassing rule that nobody leaves.
Mitzi Peirone has created a twisted surreal-arthouse fairy-tale. One where you can tell as an artist/writer/director she hasn’t sacrificed her dream. She’s created a film with a decent narrative, something that boasts originality as the film takes you on a disjointed and emotional journey of dysfunction, littered with little flashbacks of the characters childhood and their relationship as friends who appear like sisters.
Then there’s an occult-like presence with the girl’s macabre rituals, having to accommodate each others idiosyncrasies, being both tolerant and intolerant of one another as they descend further into madness.
With stunning compositions, use of natural light, foreboding and spooky tracking shots along hallways, contrasted with those of their escape in the first half of the movie, the film is stylistically consistent from start to finish.
As a viewer, you can resonate with the emancipation of the three women and a story which is realised through dreamy, candy-filled-hyper-baroque-style scenes as they gender swap, and become at one with their uncouth behaviourism. At some points, you can admire their bonding through bloodshed as morality is thrown out of the window. After all they have everything they need under that big old creepy mansion.
Even though there are male writers who’ve written great and engaging woman characters, you can tell that Braid was made by a woman. Peirone not only displays the subtle nuances of gender swapping from a woman’s point of view, but also how it feels as a woman to role reverse, to embrace masculine energy and state of mind and body.
Braid must be seen and endured for it’s a movie about the importance of expressionism, doing something true to your soul, good, bad or flawed. And sometimes, our choices are bounded by the ghosts of our past, perhaps we can seek comfort knowing that our traumas are shared. Especially in the case of Petula, Tilda and Daphne.