Bruiser (2022) Review – poignantly questions the definition of fatherhood

By Lori Meek
Published: February 25, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
Bruiser Review
Bruiser (2022) Promotional Image (Credit to Hulu)


A touching tale asking a poignant question about what defines fatherhood.

After premiering at TIFF in September 2022, followed by a limited theatrical release, Miles Warren‘s debut feature, Bruiser, arrived on Hulu. Critics who saw this title at TIFF were impressed, and I can see why. It’s a touching tale asking a poignant question about what defines fatherhood. 

Bruiser (2022) Review and Plot Summary

The movie starts by introducing 14-year-old Darious (Jalyn Hall). He goes to a private boarding school that his parents, Malcolm (Shamier Anderson) and Monica (Shinelle Azoroh), work hard to afford. He’s also a typical teen that hates living in the suburbs away from his friends and wants a new bike as he’s outgrown his old one.

Malcolm’s a stern yet loving father, while Monica is a gentler and compassionate parent. By any standards, they are a typical black hard-working, church-going middle-class family. 

One day, Darius fights with another kid from the neighborhood and accidentally stumbles upon a drifter named Porter (Trevante Rhodes). The boy is immediately drawn to the charismatic man.

Porter lives on a cool boat; he’s free-spirited, rides a motorbike, and is willing to teach Darious how to throw a punch – He’s everything Malcolm isn’t. He also happens to be Darious’s biological father. 

Bruiser is a compelling story about a young boy faced with two polar opposite role models at a time when he’s questioning his own identity and values. It takes an unfiltered look at the meaning of fatherhood. Malcolm considers himself Darious’s father but pushes him away by sometimes taking out his life stresses on him.

On the other hand, there’s Porter, who wants a relationship with his son, but he hasn’t been around for 13 years, making building that trust and bond challenging. And, of course, as the film progresses, it becomes clear that all adults are hiding from a violent past, and each wants to present the best version of themselves to the impressionable teen. 

It’s easy to see why Darious is drawn to the charming Porter while drifting apart from the man who raised him. Malcolm is struggling with the responsibility he took on when he chose to marry Monica and raise her son.

While Porter gets to be the fun parental figure and spend time with the young boy without the responsibility of taking care of him. It makes Malcolm’s anger at Porter’s return not just understandable but palpable. 

Jalyn Hall’s performance as Darious is nothing short of spectacular, and I have no doubt we haven’t seen the last of this young talent. Shamier Anderson and Trevante Rhodes are also solid as the opposing father figures. 

Is Bruiser a good movie?

There’s nothing new about the story, but Warren’s artistry is evident in how he presents the narrative, making Bruiser a film worth watching at least once. It doesn’t take sides between the two role models, nor does he fully resolve the questions raised. And the ending remains ambiguous yet riveting. 

What did you think of Bruiser? Comment below.

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