It easy to see why a movie like Branded didn’t do well at the box office.  It’s a complicated movie that tries to take on an ambitious subject, ultimately failing, but failing in a fascinating way.  Ironically, the entire film is about marketing and good luck trying to market this!

It’s hard not giving away the plot and describing it, but here goes: Mischa, the main character, is a marketing genius that grew up in Russia.  He, like no other person, understands marketing.  But when one of his more ambitious projects fails and hurts someone, he leaves the big city, convinced he’s cursed.  Six years later, after going through a strange ceremony, he returns to Moscow with the ability to see things that no one else can.  Mischa can “see” brands and how they are influencing and destroying people.  He sets out to use his marketing abilities to destroy the very entities he once worked for.

Sounds heady, right?  Yeah, it is.  And the convention to allow Mischa to see is very weird and not really explained.  The movie stars Ed Stoppard, Leelee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor and Max Von Sydow, of course, as the bad guy.  The movie goes far in trying to tackle the subject of advertising and how it hurts and helps people.  Ultimately, it’s answer didn’t really satisfy me, but I have to respect the writer/directors: Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksandur Dulerayn for even trying to wrap it into a movie.

Where it really falls short is the entertainment factor.  While pretty fascinating (if the subject interests you) it’s unconventional narrative doesn’t really lend itself to a smooth ride.  The strange creatures that Mischa sees aren’t really explained, so it’s difficult to get a handle on what exactly is happening.  And a few scenes are just down right silly.

But hey, if you want to see a very different, weird-ass movie that actually attacks the corporate culture to a large degree, check out Branded on Netflix.