I was in the mood to watch a Western movie the other night and I saw that Brimstone was playing and decided to check it out. I remember seeing the trailer a while back and noticing Dakota Fanning and Kit Harrington were in it, but that’s all I remembered. It was a nice surprise to see Guy Pearce, but I have to admit, I did not have high expectations for this film.
The movie was written and directed by Martin Koolhoven a relatively unknown Dutch director. I’m not sure if Koolhoven is an accomplished filmmaker in the Netherlands but I did find it a bit pretentious that he decided to put his last name on top of the title of the film during the opening credits. It read “Koolhoven’s Brimstone.” Right off the bat I was thinking this movie is going to be complete horse-shit.
Brimstone is a mystery/thriller that is broken down into 4 chapters with a biblical through line and references throughout. I don’t want to go into too much depth because I don’t want to ruin anything before you see it. With that being said, it’s the story of Dakota Fanning’s character Liz. Liz is a young mother that lives with her husband and children on the frontier. Their life is a relatively normal frontier life until the day a new Reverend shows up to preach in church. Liz recognizes this man and the story begins.
I really enjoyed this film. Each chapter of the story creatively bobs and weaves bringing to light the story of our characters. Who is the mysterious Reverend? Why is Liz afraid of him? These are the questions posed at the beginning of the film and through clever storytelling the answers are unveiled. The film had shocking violence and dove headfirst into life in the west. Entertainment Weekly states this film is “wildy melodramatic and a goof.” They also think Pearce’s performance was “ridiculous” and Fanning held the film together. I, on the other hand thought that, both Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce gave excellent performances. You can criticize the melodrama, but is it melodrama? Some situations were a bit over-the-top but as a whole I feel like a lot of things in this film happened daily during these unnerving times. Violence was violent, woman were not equal and young girls were fair game. This is how it was..I think. There were only a few “Clint Eastwood’s” during these times and he couldn’t be everywhere at once. So until he came to town and had his day of reckoning, you were likely to just go with the flow to avoid being on the wrong side of the equalizer. These weren’t the best times to be a woman, that’s for sure.
The best thing about this movie was that it gave perspective on what it was like for a lot of woman and girls growing up in the last half of the 1800s. Life was rarely good. We are used to seeing the sheriff’s wife or the store keepers daughter but what about the others. This was a great look at why choices are made and how situations come to be. Sorry I’m being so cryptic and not explaining in depth what I mean, but I refuse to spoil anything. Life in the wild west basically sucked for most and I love that this film gives us a different look into a woman’s experience during these times.
If you’re looking for a good story, some wild violence with excellent practical SFX then check out Brimstone.
Nutshell: Thriller, Unique, Check it out.
Should I Watch: Yes, I recommend watching it. If you’re squimish with blood, there will be moment when you need to close your eyes.
Where to Watch: Theaters.