“Brimstone” 2016 – Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce and Carice van Houten
Directed by: Martin Koolhoven
The wife and I rarely disagree on whether or not we liked a movie but when we do it is apt to be quite the shootout at the Hell-No Corral. Brimstone brought us to just such a raucous and contentious fork in our movie viewing road. Because we can find no common ground on this and since pistols at dawn are likely to wake the children we have decided to write different, even adversarial takes on this movie. Let the insults fly!
Liz (Dakota Fanning, Coraline, War of the Worlds 2005) is a tongue-less midwife in the middle of the American West. In the roundabout way Director Martin Koolhoven tells the story that will be explained by watching the movie. From her past emerges a truly creepy and sadistic preacher, the Reverend (Guy Pearce, Iron Man 3, Prometheus) who has been stalking her for years and years and finally found her in the tiny little western town with her husband and family. To understand why Pearce is after her to begin with you must kick start your flux capacitor and travel back into Liz’s childhood when the Reverend was married to Anna (Carice van Houten, Game of Thrones, Valkyrie).
The Reverend is all that a holy man is not, he is violent, vengeful, unforgiving, self-centered and apparently exceedingly randy. The first opportunity that presents itself Liz flees for her life but she loses her tongue in the trade.
Without spoiling it for our dear readers let us say only that the wife and I agree on one thing about the movie: it does not have a happy ending. Pearce is so loathsome in his roll he is almost reptilian but as far as acting goes it was a fine performance. While watching the Reverend quote verse verbatim while simultaneously violating each syllable of the scripture he quotes the viewer cannot help but develop an increasing and seething hatred for the character. Simply put, Pearce did a marvelous job.
Dakota Fanning has always been an excellent actress and when one thinks of her one can only see the curious little girl with the big blue eyes. That helps, I would say, in her role as a victim of the Reverend’s bottomless savagery. Fanning plays her part more than believably.
Now we come to the ending and it is here the wife and I diverge upon different paths. While the story is upsetting and one may find the ending not quite what was expected, it is a horror story. Brimstone, is a good movie that tells a gut-wrenching and violent story. As I said to the wife, for movies to be true to life they are sometimes not neatly wrapped up with a bow and a happy ending.
I do not ask, “What is the point of this movie?” I do not ask “what is the point” of any artistic expression. I may not like or agree with a story but if it struck me as believable and held me in my seat I think it is a story worth hearing.
My take is: Watch it. However, be warned.
“It is better to learn caution by the misfortunes of others. — “
(Since my Husband accurately recapped and reviewed the story, I will only add my personal feelings about this movie)
Maybe because I am a woman and a mother I felt the protagonist’s pain so strongly but either way, I totally disagree with my husband or anyone who claims this movie was good for anything but torture.
I don’t know about you, but when I watch a movie I expect it to have a point. It can be ANY point- a point of view, a point to make, a point to watch. This movie was a continuous source of pain and not a moment of peace to untie the knots that were forming in my stomach from watching one misfortune followed by another horror, unfairness, crime, abuse and evil-all done to one miserable character who just can’t get a break.
This movie was beautifully shot, stunning sets and cinematography, superb acting, and I even (though I normally don’t) liked the way the story was told backwards.
But all the visual richness could not ease the pain that it was to watch. What good is a movie when the viewer gets to see evil and literally scream behind the screen for the sake of the victim but cannot stop it? What good is an antagonist if there is not a moment of reflection, a bit of remorse, a single redeeming quality, a hint of humanity, or at least an explanation of his motives or background that will allow the viewer to at least understand and relate to the reason for his pure evil? What good is a protagonist who gets no break of suffering, not a moment of vindication of any kind? And we have to sit there and suffer watching it all, never seeing Karma’s beautiful face?
Yes, sometimes reality is much worse than fiction, but that is not why I watch movies. If I wanted a slap in the face by reality I would watch the news.
I understand that in movies people have to go through bad things, but we also see them learning something, become better for it, stronger, and the viewer gets rewarded for their empathy with the characters and hopefully justice. The same way we would hope to see in real life sometimes.
Spare your stomach and your time and pass. This movie was just sadistic and it seemed like the director was just trying to inflict pain. I say- no thank you, that’s why they invented high-heels.
So in case it wasn’t already clear- DON’T WATCH IT. HELL NO.