The Reel Review
Dakota Fanning stars in this Western about a mute pioneer midwife who realizes she and her family are in imminent danger when a charismatic, psychotic Dutch immigrant preacher (Guy Pearce, rocking an Amish beard) arrives in their town. Told in four chapters (with the middle two as flashbacks), we learn of the horrific events that lead to their ultimate showdown.
Dutch writer/director Martin Koolhoven (Winter in Wartime) weaves a mind spinning, stomach churning tale that frankly, has such a high degree of brutality that at times it feels more like exploitive, torture porn. Koolhaven’s mystery/thriller is made even more surreal juxtaposed against gorgeous scenic vistas, a compelling score and committed performances from Fanning, Emilia Jones (as the younger version of Fanning’s heroine), Pearce and Game of Thrones alums Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Carice van Houten (Melisandre). Despite a couple of ridiculous moments, this is a very well made, disturbing film.
The subject matter – child torture, incest, killings, rape and a lot of exceptionally graphic/realistic violence – will be WAY too much for most viewers, but for the few who can stomach the riveting, nearly two and half hours of torture, the payoff is a heartbreaking and unforgettable tale of revenge.
• Brimstone, which was filmed in Hungary, Spain, Germany and Austria, is the most prolific Dutch film ever made, sold to more than 80 countries despite earning just over $2 million at the box office.
• Mia Wasikowska (Alice Through the Looking Glass) and Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse) were originally cast, but when director Martin Koolhoven’s seven year passion project was on the verge of bankruptcy, both bailed, with Dakota Fanning and Kit Harrington stepping into their roles.
• Guy Pearce and Carice van Houten began a romantic relationship during the making of Brimstone. They have a son, Monte.