The Bad Reverend – Brimstone (2016)

There are some demons that you can’t run away from.  So this is about a mute wife (Dakota Fanning).  She has a family and is reasonably happy life in the Old Time West.  When a new Reverend comes to town, she starts acting strangely and wants to pack up and leave town immediately.  What exactly is going on here?  I will watch any Western that crosses my path, regardless if it gets a theatrical release or gets swept away straight to DVD.  This is the latter to be sure, as it only really played at a few festivals before becoming available to rent on Netflix.  There’s a lot going on in this movie, and it is much less straightforward than your garden variety Western.

1Like with this, for example.

This is really more of a mystery than anything, and that has everything to do with the structure of the story.  It is told in four chapters, but if you were to rearrange the story to be in chronological order, it would be 3, 2, 1, 4.  That makes it so it is always engaging, and it always feels like there is something more going on here.  You want to know the history of the protagonist’s situation, like how this woman wound up a mute.  Dakota Fanning has really grown into quite an actress, and I was thoroughly impressed with her abilities; you know that it couldn’t have been easy for her to emote without using spoken words.  Also, given the fact that this story is told over the span of years, they needed to get a younger version of her, and the little girl that they got to play the younger version of her is a dead ringer.  I do also like Guy Pearce as an actor, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since back in his Memento days.  Even though his career didn’t become as prosperous as it could have, I always like it when he shows up in a story.  Here, he is playing this religious bastard who justifies all of his actions as being God’s will, and he makes for a threatening and intimidating antagonist.

2And once you know the entire history, all it does is make him all the more deplorable.

All compliments aside, I don’t think I will ever watch this movie again.  As good as the production values are, this is a very long 150 minute runtime.  There is hardly a single ounce of mirth to be found in this, and this is both very adult and unpleasant.  I can deal with a long running time or a feel bad movie, but I usually have a disconnect when the Venn diagram intersects, especially when the story is mostly all one note.  Brimstone is well enough made, but you’re not going to walk away with a whole lot of positive flowery feelings towards it.

Brimstone (2016) ***

– Critic for Hire


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