Millie Bobby Brown's New Netflix Film Puts a Fresh Twist on the Classic Damsel-in-Distress Story

Still not over Millie's performance

netflix damsel review
John Wilson/Netflix

Within the first few seconds of Netflix's new fantasy film, Damsel, Millie Bobby Brown's Princess Elodie assures viewers that it's not your run-of-the-mill fairytale. Sure, the initial scenes look like they were taken straight from a children's storybook, complete with picturesque views, a stunning castle and a charming prince who's easy on the eyes. But it doesn't take long for the tides to turn. By the 30-minute mark, the glitzy Hallmark tale turns into an intense battle for survival. And in this case, no prince is coming to save the day.

If you've yet to see the trailer (which, FYI, includes a few spoilers, so we actually don't recommend watching it beforehand), the movie revolves around Elodie, a young noblewoman who learns that she's been betrothed to a wealthy prince. Her happy ending takes a drastic turn, however, when she discovers that the prince and his family have evil intentions involving a deep cave and a vicious dragon. Brown is the clear star of the film, and there's enough heart-pumping suspense to keep viewers engaged throughout, but what makes this film shine is its feminist twist on the age-old "damsel in distress" storyline.

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John Wilson/Netflix

Throughout the film, Elodie carries an air of confidence that will likely remind viewers of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, or perhaps Merida from Brave. She's resourceful, she's fiercely protective of her little sister, she values honesty and she works hard to support her family. There's no indication that she's been waiting passively for a partner to sweep her off her feet and live happily ever after. Even after she learns of the prince's sudden proposal, she becomes suspicious—careful to consider how this will affect her family.

However, after her meet-cute with Prince Henry (played by Nick Robinson), she lets her guard down—and Brown does an incredible job of showing Elodie's mixed emotions as her wedding day approaches. But it's not until the ball drops that Brown's acting chops are put on display. She fully embraces the gritty, mature role, with Elodie going from utter disbelief and disappointment to hopelessness, after learning that her wedding was merely a cruel transaction. But then she moves past her fear and resolves to escape.

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John Wilson/Netflix

Now, if we were to follow the usual trope, this would be the time when Prince Henry sneaks into the cave and rescues his bride after professing his love. But Elodie isn't banking on his return. She realizes that she must save herself.

It's a welcome addition to the growing list of Disney movies that follow the same trend, where flawed women get to carve out their own paths and thrive—sans Prince Charming. (If you need more proof, see Mulan, Frozen or Moana.) Plus, it includes an inspiring message of hope and resilience.

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John Wilson/Netflix

Brown said in her interview with Netflix, "I made [the movie] to not only challenge myself, but to have young girls and boys look up to someone who started as a victim, turned themselves into a warrior and used all of the things that were meant to restrict her as her weapon to protect herself."

All we can say is, mission accomplished, Millie.

In addition to Brown and Robinson, the fantasy film stars Angela Bassett as Elodie's stepmother, Robin Wright as Queen Isabelle and Ray Winstone as the King. Damsel is now available to stream on Netflix.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...