_
_
_
_
Review | 'Damsel'
Review
An opinion piece that you describe, praises or criticizes, on the whole or partly, to cultural or entertainment work. It must be written by an expert on the matter

‘Damsel’: Millie Bobby Brown, neither a princess nor a dragon slayer

Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is back with a new feature film. It’s a dark, medieval tale, with the star of the Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’

Millie Bobby Brown in 'Damsel.'
Elsa Fernández-Santos

Damsel is a dark fairy tale, handmade for the greater glory of its protagonist — Millie Bobby Brown — the star of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. More mature (and without much of her childhood charisma) the British actress is the center of the new feature film by Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who returns to the big screen after an intense TV career in Hollywood. It’s been 13 years since his last film, Intruders (2011).

Fresnadillo has always done well internationally. His short film Linked obtained an Oscar nomination in 1997. Since then, all his projects have demonstrated his ambition to erase the borders between the genres that interest him the most: thriller, fantasy and horror. His penchant for dark fables — between the fatality of destiny and the most primal fears — was demonstrated via Intact (2001), his very interesting debut feature film. He embraced this blended genre again in 28 Weeks Later (2007) — a notable sequel to Danny Boyle’s zombie film 28 Days Later, as well as in the very disturbing Intruders (2011)

Robin Wright in 'Damsel.'
Robin Wright in 'Damsel.'

But the daring of his previous filmography barely appears in Damsel. Or, at least, it only does so when the adventure leaps ahead to a survival story inside a cave. It’s in the more physical sequences that Fresnadillo’s touch can be best detected. However, the film is hampered — from beginning to end — by the poor acting skills of its star. Without much conviction, she unfolds into a paradoxical character: a sweet damsel who, after marrying a prince, finds herself involved in a bloody sacrifice, in which an old dragon will be her main enemy.

Despite being supported by much more reliable performers than her — such as Robin Wright, Angela Bassett and Nick Robinson — Millie Bobby Brown (who is also an executive producer of the film) doesn’t do well in an adventure film that’s presented as the reverse of a tale of princesses and dragons. In its mix of genres and references — from King Kong to Games of Thrones (and even Alien) — the film tries too hard.

Perhaps the most shocking decision — and the one that demonstrates the movie’s lack of trust in the viewer — is that the monster of the film, its vengeful dragon, speaks. Now, it’s not that a monster cannot speak… it’s that, in the excessive explanations provided by an old dragon, a contemporary evil is revealed: the continuous underestimation of the spectator’s intelligence.

Damsel

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright, Angela Bassett, Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Genre: Adventure. United States, 2024.

Platform: Netflix.

Duration: 108 minutes.

Premiere: March 8, 2024

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition


More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_