The new Hulu original drama film “Bruiser” is a faint warning against the consequences of fighting and being unable to contain one’s aggression. It is centered around a young fourteen-year-old boy named Darious and his new, unconventional friend Porter, a man who has always found solutions in physical fights. “Bruiser” hits a unique balance of being straightforward yet restrained from being a film that only wants to preach. Instead, it is a rather enjoyable coming-of-age story about a boy learning about his privileges in life and the choices he is going to make from here on.
‘Bruiser’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Young Darious bids farewell to his new girlfriend, Mia, telling her how much he will miss her as he prepares to go home from his boarding school at the end of the school year. His mother, Monica, drives the boy home as the two catch up over what has been happening in life. Back at home, Darious is greeted by his father, Malcolm, and the parents are quite excited to spend the month with their son. But Darious does not share the same feeling, as he prefers his school friends to the people in his hometown. Neither do his parents get much time out of their busy schedule to take the boy out for any activity. Darious does not really understand the strict nature of his father and is rather frustrated by it. On the very day that he arrives, the boy asks for a new bicycle since the old one is just too small, but Malcolm just tries to explain how Darious does not need a new cycle yet.
Darious goes to meet with his childhood friends, and it is immediately felt that he is not used to being around such foolish and wasteful kids anymore. The only good friend that he has is a girl named June, who also happens to be his mother’s violin student. The rest of the kids, all boys, just fight around with each other for casual fun, and one of them beats Darious down. Darious stops himself from fighting back but is left humiliated and hurt by the experience. Going to wash his face and take some time by himself, the young boy comes across a big-built, muscular man who is clearly a drifter living around on a temporary boat that he calls his house. This man introduces himself as Porter, and it is soon revealed that Porter and Darious’ father, Malcolm used to be close to each other in their younger days. Over the next few days, Darious strikes up an unlikely friendship with Porter, and the boy asks the man to teach him how to fight for himself. While he keeps visiting Porter by himself, his parents, Monica and Malcolm, receive a call one day from Porter. It is clear that the two sides have some bad memories from the past, and this gradually changes young Darious’ life as well.
How Does Darious React After Knowing Porter’s Real Identity?
When Malcolm and Monica finally meet with Porter, the real truth is revealed—Porter is actually Darious’ biological father. The three used to be very close friends since childhood, growing up altogether, and during their teenage or young adult years, Monica got pregnant with Porter’s child. But the young man did not want to take any responsibility for the child and had simply gone away from their lives. Ever since then, Malcolm had raised Darious and had married Monica to settle with the family. It is understandable that Malcolm hates Porter for this past, and he does not want to go visit the man at all. It is Monica who insists on meeting the man, for she wants to forgive him out of her religious beliefs. Porter’s character is one who is direct and upfront about everything in life. He is, therefore, clear about what he now wants—to be a part of Darious’ life, despite having left him as a baby. Monica agrees and makes her husband agree to this as well, as they decide to give Porter another chance in life. “Bruiser” does not make much out of this process, as the parents sit Darious down and tell him about his real biological father. The young boy’s interest in and admiration for Porter was already on the rise, and now that he knows his real identity, it grows even stronger.
Darious, for the longest time, looks up to Porter as a protector and the ideal man, as an individual as well as a father. To him, the fact that Porter openly discusses fighting and also trains him to fight better is itself a reason for excitement for the boy. Darious had presumably earlier tried to have such conversations with Malcolm, but the man had always been protective about such things. Malcolm often stresses to Darious the need to bear through his struggles, stay focused on his education, and make it big in life in the future. Such a plan, which requires long-term commitment and yields a reward many years later, is understandably not attractive to Darious. Instead, the young boy finds an instant interest in Porter, for he resembles everything that the young boy wants to be at present.
Darious is in those teenage years of his life when physical appearance and the ability to stand up for oneself in fights are more important than the thoughts of a stable life. This difference between the two men who technically get involved in a fight, quite literally, over who is to become the father is very evident from the get-to. Malcolm works supremely hard in his job as a car salesman in order to provide his son a quality education that he or his wife could never think of at his age. It is Malcolm who gets stressed when Darious’ school calls up and informs him about the lack of scholarship or funding programs over the next year. Malcolm also has a dreaded past, which he is not at all proud of. He does not hide it from Darious either—when in his youth, Malcolm used to fight around a lot, and when his father tried to stop him one day, Malcolm beat up his father out of rage as well. But instead of paying heed to such warnings, Darious is obviously more interested in hanging out with his biological father, Porter, who is just the opposite.
Porter has had a colorful life, too, having served in the US Air Force and then settling in Las Vegas, where he was involved in drug peddling as well. It is gradually becoming quite clear that the man is not the ideal father figure that any child should look up to. Along with the confusion that is perhaps all too natural at his age, Darious is further confused by the different sides and sudden conflicts in his life. He is used to being around privileged kids at his rich city boarding school and is confused by the motivations of the kids his age in his hometown. He cannot really relate to his father, Malcolm, for, despite being well-built and having a regular habit of lifting weights, he does not share his interests with the boy. So for him, when Porter lets him do things that are essentially not part of the education that his parents give—such as not picking up their calls and ignorantly going to play games at the fair—Darious tends to choose Porter as his father.
The Bruce Lee t-shirt that the man gives to the boy is something that is immediately relevant to his hopes of becoming a fighter like Lee and, therefore, again grows his affection towards his biological father. This gradually starts to take such a turn that instead of just admiring Porter, Darious starts to place the man in Malcolm’s position. When Malcolm finally offers to teach him about lifting weights and working out, Darious ignores him and walks away. When the man learns of the new donation securing Darious’ education and buys him a bicycle out of sheer joy, Darious does not feel too excited about it. Malcolm’s aggression and tendency to get physical, which come out when he punches Porter at the fair, also perturb Darious. There is clearly no one side that is completely on the right, and Darious just feels that Malcolm is as violent as Porter, but he just hides it and lives under pretensions about its absence, which is worse than being direct about it. This is further felt later on when Malcolm lets his anger get the better of him, and the man almost starts beating Darious as well.
Such is the influence of Porter on Darious’ young and developing mind that the boy even agrees to go away with Porter from his house late at night. When Malcolm gets to know that Porter sometimes visits his house during the night to talk to Darious, he gets the police involved and asks them to ensure Porter is gone from the town. This is not too difficult to achieve, owing to Porter’s involvement with drugs, and the man has to go away. But before moving, he meets with Darious one more time, upon the boy’s insistence, following Malcolm’s outburst at him. But instead of just providing him company for a few hours, Porter makes a different offer to Darious—to go away with him at least for a few days, if not forever. It is only when this offer turns into something more forceful and insistent that Darious sees Porter as someone not too safe to be around. It is also at this time that he sees his biological father mete out violence without being in any danger, as Porter hits out at the elderly manager at the diner. This is as much indication as Darious needs to learn his lesson and keep a distance from Porter.
‘Bruiser’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Darious, Porter, And Malcolm In The End?
When Porter and Darious sit down at the diner, the manager informs Malcolm of this, making the man drive down to the place in rage. Malcolm wants to end it once and for all, himself ensuring that Porter does not ever return anywhere near his son. But by the time he reaches the diner, Porter has already driven off with Darious, and the situation looks quite scary for the boy. Porter even throws away his phone, and Darious now pleadingly tells him to stop the car. What follows is a scarring experience for the kid, as he sees the two men, who have been clashing to establish themselves as his father, literally indulge in a violent physical fight. In fact, it can be argued that the film had been building up to such a fight, but its treatment makes it crucial to the film’s point. Malcolm and Porter often go into the darkness before reappearing in the streetlights and then going back to the darkness again. In the end, scared and confused, Darious decides to take things into his own hands, and he gets in the driving seat of Malcolm’s car. Playing the song that his mother always plays and loves, Darious drives the car away.
The ending makes it evident that Darious has learned his lesson about staying away from fights and physical violence, and he has learned it in a rather hard way. The boy realizes in the end that neither of the men is ideal to look up to as a role model, as both are hell-bent on destroying the other in their fight. The song also seems significant, for Darious now perhaps relates more with Monica, as she is earlier heard playing the song after Malcolm punches Porter in the fair. It seems to be Monica’s way of dealing with the excess violence around herself, and Darious now seems to have picked up on this habit from her. It is now that the symbolization of the opening scene is clear, in which Darious, Malcolm, and Porter lie on the grass, and then only Darious gets up. The young boy wishes to be different from the two men, and it is possible to imagine Darious walking away from a fight from here on in life. Based on how the film is structured, Darious probably continues to live with his parents but he knows himself better and understands his flaws and strengths.