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MOVIE | Millie Bobby Brown’s compelling portrayal of a betrayed princess fighting for her freedom rescues this trope-heavy film

John Wilson / Netflix

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Rated PG-13

WHO SHOULD come riding to the rescue of the new Netflix fantasy-thriller Damsel but the film’s distressed damsel herself? Millie Bobby Brown’s compelling turn as a betrayed princess gives this trope-heavy film gravity that keeps it from becoming just another fairy stale.

The dutiful Elodie (Brown, also one of the film’s producers) obeys her father’s command to marry the prince of Aurea. The girl-for-gold swap is supposed to benefit her impoverished country, but Aurea’s royal family has a dirty secret: The marriage ceremony will end with a dragon rather than a dance. The prince throws Elodie as a sacrifice into a cavernous pit with a scaly fire-breather (voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo) as he’s done before to other duped and doomed brides. Aurea’s coolly scheming Queen Isabelle (Robin Wright) masterminds the subterfuge.

But this is one jilted princess, bruised as she is from her fall into the dragon’s lair, who won’t go down without a fight. Elodie uses her wits—and pieces of her elaborate wedding dress—to fight for her freedom. She’s also fighting for freedom from patriarchy, as all the men in her life are, of course, either weak or conniving.

Damsel has impressive special effects, a nice twist, and no bad language, but Brown winds up in some revealing outfits. A few frightening and gory scenes will be too much for younger viewers.

In the end, Brown, who earned multiple Emmy nominations for playing the mysterious Eleven in Stranger Things, does take the cake. Her Damsel performance establishes her as a thriller heroine on par with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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