Brimstone (2017)

brimstone

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2017, Momentum Pictures/N279 Entertainment/Backup Media/Film I Vast/FilmWave/Illusion Film & Television/Prime Time/X-Filme Creative Pod

Director:
Martin Koolhoven
Producers:
Uwe Schott
Els Vandevorst
Writer:
Martin Koolhoven
Cinematography:
Rogier Stoffers
Editing:
Job ter Burg

Cast:
Dakota Fanning (Liz)
Kit Harrington (Samuel)
Carice van Houten (Anna)
Guy Pearce (The Reverend)
Paul Anderson (Frank)
Emilia Jones (Joanna)
Adrian Sparks (Eli’s Father)
Carla Juri (Elizabeth Brundy)
Vera Vitali (Sally)
Frederick Schmidt (Sheriff Zeke)
William Houston (Eli)
Ivy George (Sam)
Jack Roth (Wolf)
Jack Hollington (Matthew)

A four-chapter film from celebrated Dutch filmmaker Martin Koolhoven is a well-blended mix of western and drama with a dash of horror mixed in.

In the Wild West, Liz is a mute woman who is trying to live a normal life with her husband and two children. At a time where Dutch settlers have come in, Liz is startled by the appearance of the new reverend in town. Sporting a scar down his eye and another across his neck, he instantly sees Liz. It seems as if Liz knows this mysterious new figure. When she discovers that the Reverend has brutalized her husband Eli, Eli mercifully asks his son Matthew to end his life.

As Liz makes her escape with the children, Liz’s life story is revealed before our very eyes. Her connections to the Reverend are revealed and it becomes a story of insanity, treachery, and revenge. As Liz’s past story comes to an end, Liz finally must face her dreaded past in order to move on to a more peaceful life. However, what will be the cost of her quest for revenge?

Dutch director Martin Koolhoven is one of the country’s brightest filmmakers, making epic films that have put him up there with the likes of Paul Verhoeven, George Sluizer, Dick Maas, and Roel Reine. While Verhoeven and Reine have made their way to Hollywood, the likes of Maas and Koolhoven prefer to stick to their native land. For his latest film, Koolhoven himself has crafted an epic Western that looks like a cross between a Clint Eastwood film and a Quentin Tarentino film with some a pretty intense narrative that is split into four chapters with the story told backwards for the first three.

It is safe to say that after seeing this film, Dakota Fanning has truly matured from the little child star who was known for films like I Am Sam and The Cat in the Hat. She churns out one of her best adult performances as Liz, a young mute woman who is constantly hunted down by a sinister Reverend, due to his ties with her past. Fanning spends most of the film using sign language due to her being mute. As we learn about Liz’s past in the second and third chapters, properly titled “Exodus” and “Genesis” respectively, some intricate twists and turns bring a disturbing effect to her character, but clearly shows why she longs for peace.

If anyone deserves an award for the “craziest son of a gun” in a Western movie, that award without a doubt goes to Guy Pearce. And when we mean crazy, we mean crazy. As the sadistic Reverend, Pearce, who has an Amish-like look meshed with accent and pure evil, is just one of the most psychotic villains in films today. He is psychotic in both his looks and his mindset. He goes to extremes in order to get what he wants and that is Liz. While the viewer can see the eventual connection between Liz and the Reverend as something that is without a doubt shunned in today’s society, in the mindset of this crazy preacher, he sees it clearly as simple “love”.

Carice van Houten (who would go on to have a real-life relationship with Pearce after meeting on this film) and Kit Harrington prove great support in the third chapter as the Reverend’s wife Anna, who is subjected to his punishments on a daily basis and a mysterious drifter who shows feelings for the young Liz. Paul Anderson makes the most of his role as Frank, the owner of a local brothel in the second chapter as does Carla Juri as Elizabeth, one of the local brothel girls who truly is a kindred spirit and plays a pivotal role to Liz.

This film truly has some memorable moments as well as some very disturbing moments. The scene involving Eli’s fate at the hands of the Reverend is truly one that brings an unexpected value of shock in the way that Koolhoven presents it. Not that it’s a bad thing, but horror fans will surely enjoy it. The film does also bring in a dash, perhaps a reminiscence of one of the most epic moments seen in Takashi Miike’s 2001 “masterpiece” Ichi the Killer. This is truly one film that truly is a must watch for fans.

Brimstone is definitely an epic in terms of storytelling, great performances by Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce, and all around direction from director Martin Koolhoven.

WFG RATING: A+

Momentum Pictures will be releasing this film in select theaters, video on demand, and Digital HD on March 10.

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